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.
- The government has also taken action to reduce extreme poverty in Haiti by launching several social safety initiatives for the poorest. 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.
Elections dominate the political situation. The current government was tasked with organizing presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, all in 2015. Municipal and legislative elections were overdue: mayors had not been elected since December 2006 and the mandates of two thirds of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives had lapsed by January 2015.
The second round of presidential election originally scheduled for December 27th, has been postponed. Following contestations, several opposition candidates called for an independent Haitian-led commission to probe the disputed balloting and a presidential commission has been set up to investigate the results.
Growth has been modest, but overall macroeconomic stability has been maintained. Although per capita growth has been positive since 2010, faster growth rates will be needed to reduce poverty.
After a 5.3% contraction in GDP in 2010 due to the earthquake, Haiti experienced from 2011 to 2014 a real growth rate averaging 3.8% and a per capita GDP growth of 2.4%, spurred in part by high levels of reconstruction aid and remittances.
However real GDP growth is estimated to have declined to 1.7 percent in fiscal year 2014-15, down from 2.7 percent in the previous year. A longue period of drought has significantly impacted agricultural production, counting up to 50 percent of losses in the spring harvest. Inflation has also accelerated to 12 percent at end of November, 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. Having declined for the last three years, the trend is expected to continue in the future. This will likely constrain Haiti’s capital investments, which had increased for the last three years with limited impact on growth. With scarce resources, efficient and effective use 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.