The impact of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010 affected Haiti's capital and nearby towns and killed up to 230,000 people. Damages and losses were evaluated at around US$8 billion or 120 percent of GDP.
Read More »
Everyone knows that since the year 2000, Haiti has endured repeated political and natural disasters, each of which has caused growth to plummet for a given period. What we now know, however, is ... Show More +that during this same period – in spite of these disasters -- Haiti has also managed to reduce extreme poverty. This represents significant progress and should be celebrated as an indicator of progress, and as evidence that with a continued push, Haiti could eliminate extreme poverty.New data recently released by the National Poverty and Social Exclusion Observatory (ONPES) based on the Households Living Conditions Survey of the Haitian Statistic and IT Institute (IHSI) show that access to basic services has improved and extreme poverty declined from 31 percent to 24 percent since 2000. For this analysis, extreme poverty is defined as Haitians earning less than 42 gourdes per day (about US$1 dollar) and poverty is defined as Haitians earning less than 82 gourdes per day (about US$2). Compared to 2000, the evidence shows that both income and access to services have improved. The biggest gains are in access to education, where the number of children enrolled in schools increased from 78 to 90 percent. Nonetheless, too many children still drop out of school or have to repeat grades, so there is an urgent need to address the quality of education. There has also been some improvement in access to sanitation, although access to adequate sanitation in rural areas remains very low, and improvements in access to reliable energy and tap water remain very modest.Despite some success in addressing poverty, there is also cause for significant concern in the data. The Gini coefficient, which measures inequality of income, has been constant since 2001 at 0.61. This means that Haiti is still the country with highest income inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one of the most inequitable countries in the world. Urban areas have also fared much better than rural areas. In rural areas, where more than half the population still resides, the levels of extreme poverty have not changed and income inequality has increased. Access to healthcare, education, water, sanitation and electricity is also much lower in rural areas. The data also show that Haiti’s poor remain geographically concentrated in the North, where the North East and North West departments have an extreme poverty rate which exceeds 40 percent.While progress in big cities – the Port-au-Prince area in particular - can be explained by an increase in better paid jobs in construction, manufacturing and services, and by higher levels of consumption fueled in part by aid and remittances, the slow progress in rural areas is due to a continued high dependence on farming where better yields, and better lives, remain dependent mostly on the fickle weather. I have had the opportunity to travel to some of the poorest departments in the country. The contrast with the capital of Port-au-Prince is stark. Haitian families in the North and South West of the country still have to walk long distances over crumbling roads to clinics and schools. Only 16% of people in rural areas have access to improved sanitation, while 48% in cities do. They work hard to produce food, but watch it go bad before it reaches a market or can be consumed.Yet, having this new data and analysis is extremely valuable for guiding public policy and should help the Government respond and continue to further reduce poverty. Clearly, this is essential, because while there has been progress, there are still 6.3 million Haitians living in poverty, and 2.5 million living in extreme poverty. Moreover, Haiti remains very vulnerable, not only to disasters and fragility, but also to the fact that some of this improvement is linked to high levels of assistance from international aid and the diaspora. Nonetheless, to reduce extreme poverty in the wake of a devastating earthquake, damaging hurricanes and political fragility is a victory for the resilience of the Haitian people. And this victory should give us all hope that even greater, and more rapid, progress is possible in Haiti. If we can hold the course and use this analysis to guide policy, a Haiti without extreme poverty becomes a possibility. Show Less -
Stark gap between countryside and cityHaiti is in fact the most unequal country in Latin America and the Caribbean: the richest 20% of its population holds more than 64% of its total wealth, while the... Show More + poorest 20% hold hardly 1%.But the biggest inequality is geographical - between cities and the countryside. The gap between the urban and rural populations in Haiti is stark: almost 70% of rural households are considered chronically poor, against a little over 20% in cities. That means they live below Haiti’s poverty line on less than $2 a day and lack access to basic goods and services.Moreover, inequality is on the rise in the countryside, while declining in cities, according to the World Bank (based on Haitian Statistics and IT Institute data).This is even more worrisome because most Haitians live in the countryside, over half the population. About 48% of Haitians live in cities, and 22% in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.According to the World Bank and the National Poverty and Social Exclusion Observatory (ONPES), extreme poverty rates have been going down in Haiti – from 31% to 24% between 2000 and 2012, mainly due to progress in cities, where they decreased from 21% to 12% in the same period. In rural areas, however, the extreme poverty rate has remained largely the same for 12 years.So, while things are improving in Haiti’s cities, particularly in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, the situation is darker for Haiti’s countryside.For example, only 11% of people in the Haitian countryside have access to energy compared with 63% in the island’s cities. About 16% in rural areas have access to improved sanitation, while 48% in cities do.Globally, rural poverty is often higher and more difficult to fight than in urban areas. But providing education, health services, and jobs to these communities is critical to promote equal access to a better life for all Haitians,” said World Bank Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Sri Mulyani Indrawati this week during her visit to Haiti.Clean water and appropriate sanitation services is essential to avoid diseases of all kinds. As Theard Desir explains, with access to clean water, his "body doesn't itch any more" and now his family can drink, cook and wash up safely.But the road ahead is long, as the goal is that one day all 10.4 million Haitians can drink water without getting sick, can work in the evening with a light on and can have access to better opportunities.As the country is working to sustain the progress achieved and broaden opportunities for its citizens, Haiti will need more targeted public investments in rural areas and effective management of its limited resources to improve access and quality of basic services and raise agriculture productivity. In urban areas, priority should be given to skill development and job creation. Show Less -
New poverty data shows decline in extreme poverty mainly in urban areas and Port-au-Prince, where aid and remittances are high.While inequality persists, 2.5 million Haitians living on two dollars a d... Show More +ay are in danger of falling back into povertyPORT-AU-PRINCE, July 9 2014 – At the end of a three-day trip, World Bank Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Sri Mulyani Indrawati commended the government of Haiti for the progress in the country’s recovery and called for broadening economic and social opportunities for all Haitians especially in rural areas."The Haiti I saw over the last days is very different from the country I saw during my visit in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. I am encouraged by the visible progress. More than 1.3 million people moved from camps to neighborhoods. Many now live in safer homes,” she said. “Extreme poverty has declined and access to some basic services has improved over the last twelve years. This is good news, but rural Haitians have yet to benefit from these gains.”According to the 2012 household survey, which was developed by the National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion (ONPES) and with support from the World Bank, extreme poverty declined from 31 to 24 percent between 2000 and 2012. Most of these gains have been in urban areas with little progress in rural areas, where 4 out of 10 Haitians remain extremely poor.Haitians have also benefitted from better access to some services. The biggest success has been in education, where participation rates of school-age children rose from 78 to 90 percent. However, the quality of education remains low. Only one third of all children aged 14 are in the appropriate grade for their age.Vulnerability and income inequality remains very high in Haiti. According to the data, 2.5 million Haitians living on two dollars a day are in danger of falling back into poverty in case of an economic shock or natural disaster.During her visit, Indrawati who was accompanied by Jorge Familiar, the recently appointed World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, discussed with the Haiti’s development cabinet about Haiti’s economic opportunities.Sri Mulyani Indrawati travelled with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie and Minister of Agriculture, Thomas Jacques, to the southern municipalities of Les Cayes to meet farmers and visit a World Bank supported project. The initiative, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, is part of the national agriculture strategy and aims to boost productivity by training farmers and helping them purchase seeds, fertilizers and pesticides through smart subsidies.In nearby Simon, inhabitants explained how a water supply and sanitation project provides the nearly 60,000 people in this remote community with clean water and helps the population protect itself against cholera.“Globally, rural poverty is often higher and more difficult to fight than in urban areas. But providing education, health services, and jobs to these communities is critical to promote equal access to a better life for all Haitians,” said Indrawati. “We support the Haitian government’s efforts to extend the successes they achieved in the cities to remote and underserved areas.”Working with the National Poverty and Social Exclusion Observatory (ONPES) and Haitian Statistic and IT Institute (IHSI), the World Bank is conducting a full poverty assessment to be released later in the year. Detailed data and evidence from the survey will help identify priorities for public investments and improve service delivery to the poor. Show Less -
What if a mobile phone app could save your life or prevent you from submerging your car on a flooded road? Technologists working through the Code for Resilience community have been developing just tha... Show More +t sort of live-saving technology during a year-long initiative to increase the availability of locally relevant technologies that can strengthen community resilience to natural disasters.Over 1,000 software and hardware developers participated in 11 hackathon events in nine countries: Bangladesh, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United States, and Vietnam. Over a marathon weekend of creative brainstorming and rapid prototyping, they built tools to address a series of disaster resilience challenges that had been defined during community workshops and by the public.The Code for Resilience activities celebrate local winners and also encouraged the coders to continue developing their ideas into mature applications over a three-month online mentoring period. At least five teams are still at work with local governments to implement and scale up these tools.“Japan is prone to natural hazards like earthquakes and tsunamis, so we understand first-hand the importance of making communities more resilient to disasters,” said Taichi Furuhashi, lead local organizer for the Japan hackathons. “We are pleased to leverage the power of Japan’s civic hacker community to source innovative solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our region.”The resulting apps from these events range from support to rescuers during an emergency to a maternal health digitization tool.A global panel of judges selected 10 finalists from more than 60 submitted apps, and three grand prize winners were chosen to present at an awards ceremony at the Understanding Risk Forum on June 30 in London. The forum is one of the world’s premiere events highlighting disaster risk management that brings together over 800 representatives from academia, multilateral organizations, government, and the private sector.“In the lead up to emergencies, access to accurate information can mean the difference between life and death,” said Francis Ghesquiere, head of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), one of the partners behind the Code for Resilience initiative. “Code for Resilience has enabled increased collaboration between governments and local technologists to source innovative solutions to local resilience challenges.”The winning teams include:Jakarta Flood Alert (from Indonesia) – This mobile app monitors 14 sluices for current water levels, change in the past six hours, and other measures. Users get the latest information about the sluices’ condition and the chances of upcoming floods in specific locations, which can be shared through social media to inform and prepare others in the area. Show Less -