Poverty in Haiti — Case Study


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Poverty in Haiti

Key Problem: Haiti remains among the poorest in the world despite strong interventions.

a broad-spectrum approach under a proper leadership will address Haiti’s multiple problems synergistically.

Haiti overcame French colonial control and slavery in a series of wars in the early 19th century to become the world’s first black-led Republic and the first independent Caribbean State (BBC, 2012). Its largely mountainous terrain and tropical climate, location, history and culture made it a promising tourist spot. But instability and violence since the 80s decimated this prospect. Decades of poverty, environmental degradation, continued instability and a dictatorship made it the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere today. Economic sanctions and U.S.-led military intervention compelled its restitution into a constitutional government in 1994, but electoral irregularities, extrajudicial killings, tortures and brutalities have kept it in disarray and misery. An interim government has taken over it and a UN stabilization force has been stalled, but troubles continue in Haiti between rival gangs and political groups. Its most serious social problem is the huge wealth gap between the majority and the minority. This 1% minority owns almost half of the country’s wealth. Adding to the overall sordid state were the weak infrastructure, drug trafficking, the consequences of the magnitude 7 earthquake of 2010 and the outbreak of cholera two months after (BBC).

Alternative Solutions — Inherent political instability is at the base of Haiti’s problems and the origin of these problems (Pierre, 2012). It has deprived the people of a suitable environment for economic empowerment and growth. The root cause, American invasion and occupation, must be realistically addressed. Papa Doc Duvalier and his son Jacques tried to do so through their rural development program. But it led to a waste of foreign grants and World Bank loans. It hardly made economic dent since the 80s (Pierre).

More migration will raise incomes and take suffering Haitians from poverty (NPR, 2012). There are roughly 535,000 Haitian-born U.S. residents out of approximately 1 million Haitians abroad. Their remittances sent home reach up to as much as $1.8 billion or more and exceed all foreign aids. More migration and increased remittances will help those in the country more dramatically and realistically than any other assistance (NPR). Billions of dollars of aid have resulted in very little poverty reduction and Haitians account for only 2% of all U.S. immigrants. Even a substantial increase at this time will hardly be impressive (NPR).

Proposed Solution — Poverty is basically economic and the main thrust should be business and industrial development. The private sector must be encouraged to invest (Fairbanks, 2010). Entrepreneurs Richard Coles, Juan Buteau, Oliver Barrari and Matthias Pierre set up their own businesses to spur economic growth. What Haiti needs to address poverty are more like them – large employers from the private sector (Fairbanks).

Industrial development, particularly mangoes as one of Haiti’s top 3 exports, can act as catalyst of its economic and overall growth (Kahlmann, 2012). The Haiti Hope Project, in cooperation with Coca-Cola Bottling Company, sets the pace. A lot can be achieved for national growth through improved capital access for rural industries (Kahlmann).

Dr. Valentine Abe of the Caribbean Harvest Foundation sees aquaculture as the redeeming solution, beginning from the rural areas (Clinton Foundation, 2012). Haiti’s lakes have been over-fished for decades. Increasing the output of fingerlings can help fish farms beat both poverty and malnutrition in the rural areas (Clinton Foundation).

Recommendations — a broad-spectrum approach under a proper leader will address Haiti’s intimately connected problems in positive synergy simultaneously (Sullivan, 2010). The GDP per capita must be increased from its present level. The distribution of wealth must be rectified. Public education and literacy must be expanded. More jobs must be created and skills development programs extensively conducted. Access to clean water must be improved. Electrification programs must be developed and implemented, especially in the rural areas. Damaged thermal and hydro generating stations must be repaired and better managed and maintained. Deforestation, land degradation, coral reef destruction and reduced fish and agricultural yields should be checked. The current synergy of energy, water, land, food, health, jobs, education and the rest must be positively re-channeled by the proper leader for the Haitians’ welfare and future. He will merge local investments, training and education for the people and foreign help towards that welfare and future (Sullivan).

Executive Summary — Its political independence from the French in the early 19th century and establishment as the first Black-led Republic have not benefited Haiti. Its prospect as a tourist spot for its natural terrain, climate, location, history and culture was defeated by endless bloodshed and instability since the 80s. External interventions have not helped. Hostilities, a huge wealth gap, corruption, sicknesses, weak infrastructure and disasters have kept it from moving. Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Alternate solutions are increased migration and a restructuring of political consciousness. A proposed solution is business and industrial development, especially in the rural areas. A broad-spectrum approach to the country’s multiple problems in synergy and under a capable, proper leader is recommended.


BBC (2012). Haiti country profile. BBC News: British Broadcasting Corporation.

Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/12022772.stm#leaders

Clinton Foundation (2012). Fish farms — fighting poverty in Haiti’s rural communities.

Clinton Foundation. Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main.clinton-foundation.blog.html/2012/09/17/fish-farms-fighting-poverty-in-haiti’s-rural-communities

Fairbanks, M. (2010). A business solution to Haiti’s poverty. The Christian Science

Monitor: CSMonitor.com. Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0712/A-business-solution-to-Haiti’s-poverty

Kahlmann, K. (2012). Haiti. Technoserve. Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from http://www.technoserve.org/work-impact/locations/haiti

NPR (2012). Migration may be Haiti’s solution. National Public Radio. Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.pho?storyId=123081925

Pierre, J. (2012). Haiti- root cause of poverty. EzineArticles: EzineArticles.com.

Retrieved on September 22, 2012 from http://www.ezinearticles.com/?Haiti-RootCauseofPoverty

Sullivan, P.J. (2010). Perspective: water, energy, economy, poverty and Haiti.

Water News: Circle of Blue. Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2010/world/perspective-water-energy-economy