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.
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A few weeks before commemorating the fifth anniversary of its most devastating earthquake in recent history, today Haiti published its first poverty diagnosis in more than a decade. The good news for ... Show More +the country is that extreme poverty has dropped, mainly in the area of Port-au-Prince, while school enrollment has increased.Nevertheless, as international aid drops and political instability increases, these social conquests could be reversed.The study detected five trends summarizing how Haiti is doing in terms of achieving its development objectives:1. Between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty —with one dollar or less a day— dropped from 31% to 24% at the national level, and from 20% to 5% in Port-au-Prince. More than 200,000 people have climbed out of poverty.2. School enrollment increased from 78% to 90%, very close to the goal of universal child enrollment. However, many children abandon school or have to repeat years. Less than 60% reach the last year of primary education; and low educational achievement is one of the main factors behind unemployment.“Many parents are unemployed and cannot send their children to school,” says Clement Renold. His family benefits from a program that allows children to study without paying tuition fees. “This is a great relief because sending a child to school is the greatest possible present.”Compared to its Latin America and the Caribbean neighbors, Haiti has the greatest ratio of adults without formal education. The report recommends a financial plan to improve educational access and quality, focused on early childhood development.3. Despite this, a high degree of vulnerability threatens these improvements: Close to 2.5 million Haitians are unable to cover their basic food needs, while one million are in danger of falling into poverty. Improvements in poverty reduction were mostly driven by international aid (following the earthquake), remittances and an increase in well-paid jobs in construction, transportation and telecoms, sectors that also received a significant amount of investment from the international community as part of the reconstruction process. “Haitians needed money, families abroad wanted to help their relatives here in Haiti,” explains Sharline Dubuisson, whose money transfer company saw a spike in demand after the earthquake. “We received a lot of transfers.”Seeing that foreign aid is starting to slow down after an exceptionally high period following the disaster, social indicators could be easily reversed if efforts stops and if growth does not resume. Haiti has recently expanded its main social security networks, but its coverage is still very low. Barely 8% of all Haitians received non-contributory social assistance benefits in 2012, while even less salaried workers have access to social security.4. Haiti continues to exhibit the greatest income inequality in the continent, and is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The richest 20% of households earn 64% of the country’s total income, while the poorest 20% makes do with just 1%.5. There is a growing gap between Port-au-Prince and the rest of the country. More than 80% of those living in extreme poverty do so in rural areas. Families in the north and southwest of the country work hard to grow food, but they fail to earn enough. Extreme climatic events, lack of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds, and limited market access are just some of the impediments they face.“The situation is difficult for us farmers because we cannot purchase seeds,” explains Marie Helene Jean Louis, who grows bananas in her small plot of land. “Sometimes we want to grow certain plants but do not have the money to buy seeds.”This profound urban-rural gap can be observed when looking at access to services. Only 16% of people in rural areas have access to improved sanitation, compared to 48% in the cities.For many families, migration is seen as a way out of poverty. During this period (2000-2012), 20% of the population migrated within the country. For example, educated migrants working in Port-au-Prince on average earn between 20% and 30% more than if they had stayed in their town or city of origin.While the country continues to work to close the poverty gap, the report recommends three main courses of action:Creation of jobs,Increased access to health and education, andProtecting the poor and most vulnerable from unexpected economic events.In a context of limited resources, the fight against poverty can only be possible when decisions are taken with the best available information. Because of this, this report on poverty in Haiti is a tool that will allow governments and donors to be more specific in their programs and be able to reach people in need. Show Less -
Haiti First Poverty Assessment Post-earthquakeNew report calls for inclusive growth and measures to increase access to basic services, employment opportunities and social protection for the poorEmploy... Show More +ment opportunities in construction, transport and telecommunication sectors, aid and remittances helped reduce poverty PORT-AU-PRINCE, December 11, 2014 - A new report released today by the National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion (ONPES) and the World Bank suggests the need for more inclusive growth and policies to increase access to basic services, livelihood opportunities and social protection for the poor in Haiti as the best way forward for accelerating poverty reduction in the country.The report Haiti: Investing in people to fight poverty highlights that extreme poverty declined from 31 to 24 percent at the national level and from 20 to 5 percent in the Port-au-Prince area between 2000 and 2012. The biggest gains in access to basic services have been in education, where school participation rates have risen from 78 to 90 percent. "It is clear that the Metropolitan area received more attention in recent years, but we also note that more and more actions are directed to the provinces. If these actions are sustained and integrated into a comprehensive policy to foster development of rural areas, we will undoubtedly have a lower poverty rate, "said Shirley Augustine Coordinator ONPES.However, poverty remains high and access and quality of basic services remains a major concern, particularly in rural areas. More than 6 million Haitians - almost 60 percent of the population - live on two dollars a day and the richest 20 percent of households hold 64 percent of total income in the country.The authors find that the key drivers behind the decline in poverty since 2000 have been the increase of better paid jobs in construction, transport and telecommunication, particularly in the Port-au-Prince area, as well as large flows of remittances and international aid. From 2001 to 2012, wages in the formal sector were four times higher than in the agriculture sector, and the share of households receiving remittances rose from 42 to 69 percent.“In spite of progress, opportunities for Haitian families to improve their economic and social status remain limited compared to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Far from the capital, most families have very limited access to basic services and often cannot afford to cover their medical bills or send their children to school,” said Mary Barton-Dock, World Bank Special Envoy in Haiti. “Nearly five years after the devastating earthquake, this analysis highlights priority actions to help tackle poverty and promote inclusive growth in the country”.The report suggests three priority directions to sustain progress in closing the poverty gap and broaden opportunities for all Haitians across the country:Boost incomes and economic opportunities: Incomes have stagnated in rural areas where 80 percent of the poor are concentrated. Boosting agriculture productivity through diversification and improved access to markets, skills and inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds would be an effective way to multiply economic opportunities. In urban areas, workers with better education obtain substantially better jobs and incomes. The analysis suggests the need to improve working conditions in the informal sector through better business environment and jobs training.Improve access and quality of health and education services: Despite sizeable progress, child and maternal health indicators remain low compared to the region and about 200,000 children aged 6 to 14 are currently out of school. High cost of access to services is still an obstacle. On average, families spend 10 percent of their budget on education and 3 percent on health care. The report suggests that increasing access to cost-effective primary health care, while focusing on improving the quality of service delivery in health and education, would have a significant impact on poverty.Protect the poor and vulnerable from shocks: The government recently announced a new social protection strategy to consolidate and improve the targeting and coverage of existing social safety nets. Continued efforts are needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Haiti’s hard-earned development gains are often jeopardized by adverse natural events. A better understanding of and response to disaster risks is needed, notably through the integration of disaster management in investments and public policies.This joint ONPES WB poverty diagnostic is based on the 2012 household survey conducted by the Haitian Statistic and IT Institute (IHSI) to help identify priorities for public investments and improve service delivery to the poor. It will also inform the upcoming World Bank Group country strategy for 2015-2021.Learn more about the work of the World Bank in Haiti: www.worldbank.org/htand www.worldbank.org/povertyVisit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldbankBe updated via Twitter: @WBCaribbeanYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/worldbank Show Less -