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Christian Aid in Haiti

Overview

The earthquake in 2010 had a devastating effect on Haiti, which was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. However, slowly but surely, the country is rebuilding and moving on from this disaster.

Barriers to development include widespread poverty, environmental degradation, a weak government and deep levels of corruption, but the work of Christian Aid and its partners is making a real difference to the lives of poor Haitians. 

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

Christian Aid’s Haiti and Dominican Republic programme believes that to bring about lasting change to reduce poverty; we must address inequality and vulnerability.

The two countries share an island and are closely tied economically, socially, politically and environmentally and so a bi-national approach to work in both countries is imperative.

Inequality

Around three-quarters of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, making daily life a struggle for the poor, with limited opportunities to improve their living and working conditions.

Haiti lacks a fair and effective tax system, and there is no proper system in place to address corruption. Unjust social spending leaves many of the poorest and most vulnerable without access to basic services.

Haiti’s history of political turmoil allowed strong influence from foreign and international powers. Hidden power continues to lie in the hands of key international actors and the Haitian elite.

Having so many disparate political tendencies in parliament perpetuates conflict and makes governing very difficult. Private and foreign interests often clash, creating further political disorder, and are often not in line with what most Haitians want for their country.

Increasing social spending to respond to food security challenges and to construct social safety nets is a priority, as well as significantly increasing investment in health, education, agriculture and security.

Levels of gender-based violence have increased in Haiti since the earthquake of 2010 – sexual violence against girls and women is prevalent in the refugee camps that were set up after the disaster.

Christian Aid is working to empower citizens to hold the state to account to change systems and structures and create a fairer, more transparent society through less human rights abuses, stronger institutions and reducing inequality.

Climate and environment

Haiti is vulnerable to natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes, which create further barriers to development. Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of severe weather events in the region, so there is an increasing need to help communities to increase their resilience to events such as flooding and droughts.

Deforestation in Haiti is also a severe problem. In the 1920s, 60% of Haiti was forested, now just 2% of forests remain. Communities continue to depend on wood and charcoal as their main source of fuel, which exacerbates this problem. Soil erosion is the most obvious effect of deforestation, with thousands of acres of topsoil removed each year.

The state of the environment increases the vulnerability of marginalised people who depend on natural resources and agriculture, in turn making them more vulnerable to economic shocks or political instability.

Living standards in Haiti have deteriorated since the 2010 earthquake – 280,000 people were still living in tents in 2013. Shelter therefore remains one of the key priorities following the earthquake.

Christian Aid is supporting communities to build their resilience to future disasters and to play a more participatory role in improving their livelihoods.

Further content

  • There is a forest in Haiti: Christian Aid’s programme manager, Starry Sprenkle, reflects on a visit to one of Haiti’s last remaining forests.
  • Three years after the quake: find out how we're continuing to help rebuild people's lives after the devastating earthquake in 2010.  
  • New Homes in Haiti: A photo gallery showing post-earthquake rebuilding and reforestation.

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