Haiti's economic and social development continues to be hindered by political instability, increasing violence and fragility. Haiti remains the poorest country in the LAC region and among the poorest countries in the world. In 2020, Haiti had a GDP per capita of US$2,925, 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already weak economy, plagued by social turmoil and political instability. Even before the pandemic, the economy was contracting and facing significant fiscal imbalances. Following a contraction of 1.7 percent in 2019, GDP contracted by an estimated 3.8 percent in 2020
Past marginal gains in poverty reduction have been undone by a succession of crises, the COVID19 pandemic, the assassination of the President, Jovenel Moïse, and the August 2021 earthquake being the most recent ones. Current estimates forecast a poverty rate of nearly 60 percent in 2020, compared to the last official national estimate of 58.5 percent in 2012. About two thirds of the poor live in rural areas. The welfare gap between urban and rural areas is largely due to adverse conditions for agricultural production. Haiti is also among the countries with the greatest inequity in the region. The richest 20 percent of its population holds more than 64 percent of its total wealth, while the poorest 20 percent hold hardly 1 percent.
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.
In addition to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the political situation, Haiti remains highly vulnerable 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 latest reports of the damage from the 2021 earthquake indicate that 2,248 people have died, 320 people are missing, and 12,763 have been injured. In terms of infrastructure, 53,815 houses have been destroyed while 83,770 other buildings were damaged, including schools, health facilities and public buildings. The World Bank prepared a Global Rapid Disaster Damage Estimation (GRADE), the report was made available on August 27, 2021 and estimated the economic damage from the earthquake to be US$1.11 billion, which is equivalent to 7.8 percent of Haiti’s 2019 GDP.
The same region was affected by Hurricane Matthew, which hit the country in 2016. It caused losses and damages estimated at 32 percent of 2015 GDP, while the 2010 earthquake, which killed about 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 the country, while making some progress, still lacks adequate preparedness and coping mechanisms.
Last Updated: Nov 08, 2021