Haiti's economic and social development continues to be hindered by political instability, increasing violence, unprecedented level of insecurity, exacerbating fragility. Haiti remains the poorest country in the LAC region and among the poorest countries in the world. In 2021, Haiti had a GDP per capita of US$1,815, the lowest in the LAC region and less than a fifth of the LAC average of US$15,092. On the UN’s Human Development Index, Haiti ranked 170 out of 189 countries in 2020.
Although Haiti’s economy was contracting and facing significant fiscal imbalances before the COVID-19 pandemic, its impacts triggered an even greater economic downturn. In 2020, GDP contracted 3.3 percent and is estimated to have contracted by 1.8 in 2021.
Past marginal gains in poverty reduction have been undone by a succession of crises, including the COVID19 pandemic and the assassination of the President Jovenel Moïse, and natural hazard shocks, such as the August 2021 earthquake and tropical storm Grace. Latest estimates put the 2021 poverty rate, using a lower-middle income country poverty line of US$ 3.2, at 52.3 percent, up from 51 percent in 2020. Haiti is also among the countries with the greatest inequality in the region. This is largely due to two thirds of the poor living in rural areas and the adverse conditions for agricultural production, creating a welfare gap between urban and rural areas. The richest 20 percent of its population holds more than 64 percent of its total wealth, while the poorest 20 percent has less than one percent.
Haiti remains one the most vulnerable countries world-wide to natural hazards, mainly hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. More than 96 percent of the population is exposed to these types of shocks. On August 14, 2021, an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale, struck the southern region of Haiti, an area where approximately 1.6 million people live. The earthquake’s epicenter was recorded approximately 12 km north-east of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, about 125 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince.
The direct human toll of the earthquake resulted in 2,246 deaths, 12,763 injured and 329 missing in the three departments of the Southern Peninsula. In terms of infrastructure, 54,000 houses have been destroyed while 83,770 other buildings were damaged, including schools, health facilities and public buildings. At the government's request, the World Bank worked with development partners to produce a post-disaster needs assessment to estimate the extent of the damage and to chart a path to recovery. The results of the assessment of the effects of the August 14, 2021, earthquake indicate a total of more than US$1.6 billion in damage and losses. The same region was impacted in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew, which caused losses and damages estimated at 32 percent of 2015 GDP, and the 2010 earthquake that killed approximately 250,000 people and decimated 120 percent of the country GDP. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, intensity, and impacts of extreme weather events, and Haiti, while making some progress, still lacks adequate preparedness and resilience-building mechanisms.
On the human development front, Haiti has made significant progress in controlling cholera, with no laboratory-confirmed cases since 2019. Despite this progress, improvements in human capital have stalled and, in some cases, deteriorated since 2012. Infant and maternal mortality remain at high levels, and coverage of prevention measures are stagnating or declining, especially for the poorest households.
According to the Human Capital Index, a child born today in Haiti will grow up to be only 45 percent as productive as they could be if he or she had enjoyed full access to quality education and healthcare. Over one-fifth of children are at risk of cognitive and physical limitations, and only 78 percent of 15-year-olds will survive to age 60.
Last Updated: Jun 14, 2022