Six years after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, Haiti has moved from recovery to longer term development as it continues to improve infrastructure and strengthen institutions, work toward increasing access to and quality of education, health and other services, and stimulate investment.
Although significant challenges remain, Haiti has seen a number of positive developments since the earthquake:
- Of the 1.5 million internally displaced people, more than 1.4 million have left the camps and relocated. Reconstruction programs are repairing and building safer housing and upgrading neighborhood infrastructure.
- Haitians children have benefitted from better access to primary education, where participation rates of school-age children rose from 78 to 90 percent. However, the quality of education and learning remains a challenge. Only one third of all children aged 14 are in the appropriate grade for their age.
- Extreme poverty has fallen from 31 to 24% over the last decade, especially in urban areas, and foremost in Port au Prince. However, sustainability, targeting, and coverage remain significant challenges. Only 8 percent of the Haitian population received noncontributory social assistance benefits in 2012, such as scholarships, food aid, and other transfers.
- The tourism sector is growing with several new hotels in Port au Prince and an increase in international travelers by nearly 20% in the last couple of years.
Nevertheless, much remains to be done to reduce poverty and improve the wellbeing of Haitians.
President Michel Martelly stepped down at the end of his constitutional mandate on Feb. 7 and without an elected successor, lawmakers chose the Senate chief Jocelerme Privert to lead a caretaker government. President Privert is mainly tasked to organize for a new provisional government, install a new electoral commission to investigate fraud allegations during 2015 elections, and finalize the presidential, parliamentarian and municipal election. .
After a 5.5% contraction in GDP in 2010 due to the earthquake, Haiti experienced from 2011 to 2015 a real growth rate averaging 3.4% and a per capita GDP growth of 2.0%, spurred in part by high levels of reconstruction aid and remittances.
Overall economic activity last year only expanded by 1.7 percent, down from 2.8 percent the previous year. This expansion was supported by relatively strong growth in manufacturing and hospitality (growing at 3.5 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively), but was hampered by agriculture (contracting by 3.5 percent). With a decline in investment and concerns about the spring harvest, economic growth could further decelerate this year to 0.9 percent.
The bad harvest is also putting pressure on prices. Inflation has accelerated to 14.4% year on year percent at end of February, mostly driven by higher local food prices following droughts in several parts of the country.
A major challenge for Haiti will be to manage the substantial decrease in donor financing, as well as its access to concessional financing through the Petrocaribe agreement. This will likely constrain Haiti’s capital investments, which have increased over the last three years, but with limited impact on growth. With scarce resources, efficient and effective use of domestic and external resources will remain crucial.
Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world (with a GDP per capita of US$ 846 in 2014) with significant needs in basic services. According to the latest household survey (ECVMAS 2012), more than 6 million out of 10.4 million (59%) Haitians live under the national poverty line of US$ 2.42 per day and over 2.5 million (24%) live under the national extreme poverty line of US$1.23 per day. It is also one of the most unequal countries, with a Gini coefficient of 0.61 as of 2012.