Haiti: 59% of the population in extreme poverty

Haiti’s economic indicators are worrying: its GDP increased by an average of 1.1% during the past ten years, but 59% of the population is in extreme poverty and 76% is in relative poverty.

To tackle such poor results, economic development agencies in Haiti must take into account the following challenges:
– A young population (more than 50% of the population are less than 21 years old) with a low level of education, technical or professional training
– A high unemployment rate, in particular among the youngest
– An informal economy supplying 80% of jobs
– Only 32% of Haitians have access to electricity (this drops to only 5% in rural areas).

Haiti: a complicated ecological situation

The country’s ecology is also complicated: less than a third of the territory is covered by forests, which results in serious damage every time there is a natural disaster. Most households still cook with charcoal, thus worsening the deforestation and creating significant health issues due to smoke inhalation when food is being prepared.

Natural disasters have also revealed weaknesses in the construction of housing and other buildings in Haiti. The number of casualties and deaths after the 2010 earthquake demonstrated the lack of building regulations and highlighted the fact that households lack the means to access decent homes in risk-free buildings. In addition to the earthquake risk, hurricanes also create casualties in Haiti each year. The challenge is to be better prepared for climatic variations and to spread good practice in disaster-proof construction, training and innovation.

To meet these challenges Entrepreneurs du Monde has implemented several projects in Haiti.

Entrepreneurs du Monde’s projects in Haiti

Entrepreneurs du Monde created Palmis Mikwofinans Sosyal, a social microfinance project, in 2003. In 2010, after the highly damaging earthquake, it set up three others:
– An access to energy project: Palmis Enèji
– A project to support Very Small Businesses: Say Yes! To Business
– A project (now locally managed) to train local craftsmen in earthquake and hurricane resistant construction.