Poverty in Haiti

Poverty in Haiti affects its people in many aspects of everyday life, including housing, nutrition, education, healthcare, infant mortality rates, as well as environment.[1] Haiti has constantly been plagued with low levels of living conditions, with many Haitians moving into the capital city of Port-au-Prince in a bid to escape poverty in the more rural areas of the country. Levels of poverty in Haiti are generally regarded as among the most severe in the western hemisphere.


More mountainous than Switzerland, Haiti has a limited amount of cultivable land. According to soil surveys by the United States Department of Agriculture in the early 1980s, 11.3% of the land was highly suitable for crops, while 31.7% was suitable with some restrictions related to erosion, topography, or conservation. The surveys revealed that 2.3% was mediocre because of poor drainage, but was acceptable for rice cultivation, and 54.7% was appropriate only for tree crops or pastures because of severe erosion or steep slopes. According to estimates of land use in 1978, 42.2% of land was under constant or shifting cultivation, 19.2% was pasture land, and 38.6% was not cultivated.[2]

The use of purchased inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, and irrigation, was rare; farmers in Haiti employed traditional agricultural practices more than did farmers in any other part of the Western Hemisphere. Small farmers also lacked access to credit. Informal credit markets flourished, but credit was not always available at planting time. When credit was available, it was usually provided at usurious rates. The country's major public financial institutions provided loans to the agricultural sector, but this lending benefited less than 10% of all farmers. Major credit sources included the Agricultural Credit Bureau, agriculture credit societies, credit unions, cooperatives, and institutions created by nongovernmental organizations.[2]

CIA World Factbook

In 2015, the gross domestic product in Haiti was estimated to be US$18.54 billion by The World Factbook, ranked 146 (out of 230 countries) in the world.[3] Although GDP growth in Haiti is among the fastest in the region, it has not been sufficient to significantly reduce poverty rates.

GDP (purchasing power parity): $18.54 billion (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,800 (2014 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: 63.18 years (2014 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.08% (2014 est.)
Health expenditures: 9.4% of GDP (2013)
Literacy: total population: 60.7% (2015 est.)

United Nations Development Program

The United Nations Development Program estimates that the 2014 national poverty rate is 58.6%, with those living in abject poverty at 24.7%.[4] which is roughly 1/4 of the population.

Key reported figures of the UNDP Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are as follows:

The richest 1% of Haitians own the same wealth as 45 percent of the poorest population. There is a new baseline of poverty in Haiti, based on consumption: The national poverty rate is 58.6 percent, the extreme poverty rate: 24.7 percent.

The net enrollment rate in primary education has increased steadily from 47 percent in 1993 to 88 percent in 2011. The number of children vaccinated against measles increased from 25.80 percent in 1987 to 85 percent in 2013. In rural areas, 75 percent of births are still without the assistance of qualified personnel in obstetrics. In urban areas, the majority of women give birth with medical assistance—nearly 60 percent. HIV/AIDS prevalence has stabilized between young Haitians aged 15–24 years, from 1 percent in 2006 to 0.9 percent in 2012.


In 2014, Haiti was ranked the fifteenth (15) most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, with a CPI score of 19 as opposed to the United States score of 74.[5] Based on expert opinion from around the world, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, and it paints an alarming picture. Not one single country gets a perfect score and more than two-thirds score below 50, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Studies conducted by Transparency International shows a strong correlation between corruption and poverty. Corruption increases poverty through lower economic growth rates, biased tax systems which would also lead to a widening disparity between the rich and the poor, poor implementation of social programs, lower welfare spending and unequal access to education.[6] Specifically for Haiti, although the small Caribbean country boasts a regionally high economic growth rate, social programs and increasingly low cost access to education, studies have shown that international donors have been slow to assist Haiti, mainly due to perceived widespread corruption and structural problems present in the country.

The United Nations estimates a total of US$13.34 billion[7] has been earmarked for the 2010 Haiti earthquake that inflicted $7.8 billion in damages,[8] yet two years after the 2010 quake, less than half of that amount had actually been released, according to U.N. documents. This is due in a large part to the perceived corruption of the Haitian government, and yet less than 5% of Humanitarian aid was channeled through it. According to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, as of March 2012, of Humanitarian funding committed or disbursed by bilateral and multilateral donors in 2010 and 2011, only 1% has been pledged to the Haitian Government[9]

Infant mortality

Haiti's infant mortality rate of 53 deaths per 1,000 live births (in 2011)[10] is a result of the poor healthcare system. The country made notable progress in health indicators, with infant mortality decreasing 44% since 1990, faster than the global average, according to the 2014 United Nations Development Program report.[4]

Under age 1 (per 1,000 live births)
Under age 5 (per 1,000 live births)


Haiti ranks 59.5[11] in the Gini Coefficient index, with the richest 10% of Haitians receiving 47.83% of the nation's income, while the poorest 10% receive less than 0.9%.[12]

See also


  1. Sen, Paul Farmer ; foreword by Amartya (2004). Pathologies of power : health, human rights, and the new war on the poor: with a new preface by the author (2° édition. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24326-2.
  2. 1 2 Malik, Boulos A. "Land Use and Farming Technology". A Country Study: Haiti (Richard A. Haggerty, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 1989). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. "Central America and Caribbean :: Haiti". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  4. 1 2 "Haiti boosts health and education in the past decade, says new UNDP report". UNDP. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  5. "2014 Corruption Perception Index--Results". Transparency International. 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-03.
  6. Gupta, Sanjeev; Daoodi, Hamid; Alonso-Terme, Rosa (1998). "Does Corruption Affect Income Inequality and Poverty?". IMF Working Papers: 4–5.
  7. "What does Haiti have to show for the US$13 billion in earthquake aid?-NBC News.com". January 2015.
  8. "Haiti". Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  9. "UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti Key Facts as of March 2012" (PDF).
  10. "At a glance: Haiti". UNICEF. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  11. World Resources Institute, EarthTrends Environmental Information (2000-2007) Archived 2011-11-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Tradingeconomics – Income distribution in Haiti
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