Poverty in Haiti
By: Amro Isamelden Yahya
Haiti is today classified as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and has faced
stagnation or decline in the GPD per Captia at least since the 150th anniversary of the Haitian
independence in 1954. Three quarters of the population is poor, and over half-four and half
million persons are extremely poor. Which is higher incidence than any other region, and
comparable to the poorest Africa regions. The new transition government seems to be
helpless against the increasing poverty levels in the country.
The poverty in Haiti has many reasons. One of these reasons is the widespread corruption:
the country is heavily corrupted, every year much of the humanitarian aid is pocked by the
officials. According to World Bank report in 2006, "In Haiti, the process of business
regulations is complex and customs procedures are lengthy." On average, opening a business
took 204 days. For comparison, the average was 73.3 days in Latin America and 16.3 days in
OECD countries. It took estimated 5 years and 65 bureaucratic procedures for a private
person to buy land from the state. It took 683 days to register a property. All Latin American
and Caribbean countries except Cuba and Venezuela enjoyed much more economic freedom
than Haiti on the Index of Economic Freedom of 2006.
Natural disasters are one of the factors that play a critical role in
weakening the Haitian economy. As we know that handling natural
disasters requires resilience, and a good economy that is able to fund the
rebuilding process (which Haiti apparently lack). Therefore the Haitian
economic system is unable to advance due to lack of fundamental money.
Although the private sector (controlled by wealthy families) is wealthier
than the civil sector, it has proved its inefficiency against handling and
helping disaster-stricken areas. To sum up the Haitian economy is too weak
of fulfilling the country monetary needs.
The political upheaval in Haiti has a massive impact on economy. For
example the previous civil unrest and the rebellion turned the active-
tourism region into fighting arena. Repels chased Aristide all around the
country. Aristide faced several assassination attempts, but all of them
failed. The corruption found its way through the political systems; the
parliament and other state institutes.
Deforestation has drastically worsened the impact of hurricanes
and tropical storms. On the southern border between the
countries, you can see the green forest stops and it's barren on the
Haitian side. Crops are heavily damaged by frequent disasters, and
the lack of green belts.
After gaining it’s independence, Haiti was forced to pay a large
indemnity to France or else many countries –including the US-
refused to acknowledge Haiti for fear that it would encourage
American slave revolt.
The Duvaliers (Francois "Papa Doc" and his son, Jean-Claude
"Baby Doc,“ left Haiti economically decimated. A large numbers of
educated professionals left the country during the Duvalier
regimes, and the period that followed was so unstable, it was hard
to lay down roots and build infrastructure. International investment
was limited because it was an unreliable business environment.
The US food aid for Haiti helped to feed many hungry Haitians but
it also put the Haitian farmers out of business. Due to the bad
infrastructure that makes it hard to transport crops from farms to
the capital Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country.
Haiti is located in the Caribbean Basin, and shares the island with
the Dominican Republic. It is:
1) 1200 km (750 MI) from Miami
2) 80 km (50 MI) from Cuba
3) 150 km (94 MI) from Jamaica
4) 1000 km (625 MI) from the South American coasts.
• With a surface of 27,750 square kilometers, (10.840 sq. MI) of
plains. Over three fourths of the country consist in mountainous
land. Its highest altitude is Morne La Selle: 2,680 meters (8.800 ft.)
Of Haiti's 916,000 hectares of cultivated land, barely 229,000 are
located in valleys.
Haiti's climate is tropical humid. There are only two rainy seasons
(spring and fall). Rainfall is presently decreasing mainly as a result
The country is divided into 9 administrative departments, 119
communes and 565 rural districts.
8.000.000 habitants, with a density of 288 per square kilometer or (750
per sq. mi.). In certain rural communities, the density sometimes
exceeds 500 inhabitants per square kilometer (1.300 per sq. mi.) 66.4%
of the population lives in rural areas: This percentage is the highest in
Port-au-Prince, the capital, has a population of approximately 2.000.000
inhabitants. (25% of the country's total population). Cap-Haitian, the
second largest city, has approximately 300.000 inhabitants.
Emigration: 25,000 Haitians emigrate each year. It is estimated that over
a million Haitians live abroad
Active Population: 2.3 million inhabitants, the unemployment rate is
approximately 60%. Nearly 80% of the rural population, and 60% of that
of Port-au-Prince, live below the level of absolute poverty.(BIT, 1988).
Gross Domestic Product:
The Gross Domestic Product per capita is approximately $380.00 per
year . 89% of the population collects 46% of the national income
Poverty in Haiti leads to many social impacts :
1. Conflict, social exclusion and marginalization, and a pattern of
policies that deny poor people proper education, health care and
basic services all conspire to perpetuate the pernicious poverty
cycle. Diseases find their way easy throughout the country,
because of the law health expenditure per captia ($83 USD).
2. High levels of Unemployment throughout the country.
3. Crimes is one of the usual impacts of poverty in most countries.
Criminals employ situations for their favor by employing
violence during unrests and natural disasters.
4. Education policies that ban the poor from receiving proper
education, and the bad system of education that forces educated
citizens to live abroad to get proper education.
Negative trends are being seen in the health, nutrition and well-
being of the Haitian population. Currently HIV/AIDS is one of the
leading causes of death in Haiti, and more than 4% of the adult
population in infected with the HIV virus.
Countries with the Highest Percentage of College-Educated
Citizens Living Abroad
Mozambique Prim aire
El Salvador Levels of education in
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
The increasing levels of poverty caused a lot of impacts per captia,
and the domestic production was also affected. ¾ of the
population lives under poverty line; Unemployment is increasing
throughout the region creating large levels of self-employment.
Many of the domestic industrial plants were closed, and some
were permanently closed. This increases the levels of
unemployment and lowers the levels of labor forces in the region.
Foreign food aid buts the Haitian farmers out of business, because
it fulfills the Haitians citizen need while the farmers struggles to
transport their crops to the capital and other parts of the country.
This stops the economy from growing by stopping the agriculture
from playing its role as the basic economy sector.
Deforestation: because most of the population rely on wood in
cooking and other activities. Which increases the danger of
extreme weather by removing the green belt that protect the soil in
farms from moving.
Random changes in the weather conditions and unexpected rain.
Job creation : is a very affective way to reduce poverty levels and
unemployment. By creating new the government is able to control
the labor forces like employing people for planting trees or
Haiti must be more opened to the world for multinationals to invest
in it’s lands.
Increase the income per captia by reopen the closed plants. This
will provide new jobs and more domestic income.
Haiti must develop its infrastructure before developing the
agriculture sector to help farmers transport their crops to parts of
the country to revive the domestic economy.
Countrystudies.us/Haiti geography. ((http://countrystudies.us))
Steven Horwitz, Guest Blogger at 3:50 PM on
Bob Corbett : list of natural disasters of Haiti
Crime Rates report:
Current Issues of Haiti: http://www.earthyfamily.com/H-issues.htm
Reasons of Haiti’s poverty http://www.newsweek.com/id/231179
Friends of the earth: poverty impact in Haiti http://www.foei.org/en/who-we-
Haiti 2009 Crime & Safety Report