poverty challenges in Haiti. Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere and the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The nation's demographic statistics reveal the effect of extreme poverty. This condition has significantly reduced life expectancy to 49.2 years. This is highly contributed by high infant mortality rates due to poor health services and general high death rates. Despite the slow population growth rate and extreme poverty, Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with approximately 95% of the population made up of black people. Extreme poverty in Haiti and the challenges that this condition causes to the people are the main reasons for carrying out this study. The research explores the political, economic and social structures of Haiti in relation to the poverty level. It is also of much interest to examine how external bodies such as U.S. Aid, IMF and UN Aid influence the level of poverty in this nation.
The object of the research is to examine the causes of poverty, the mystery it causes and possible solutions to this situation. The study offers various strategies put in place to reduce poverty, the challenges that these strategies face and possible alternatives to this problem. The reason for selecting this research is to provide an insight into this significant challenge that faces Haiti for decades. The research will provide useful information about the poverty situation in Haiti. The effects of the situation and the actions of both internal and external participants to save the situation in Haiti are part of the research. There is very little research concerning this challenge in Haiti. Very little is available to the outside world about the actual situation of poverty in Haiti. This reason proves the reason for more research in order to explain the problem and seek possible solutions. The research also examines the macroeconomic environment in Haiti in relation to the poverty level. In analyzing the problem, the research explores the cultural background of the people, the geographical position of the nation and political factors that may lead or accelerate poverty in Haiti.
Developed nations and international bodies participation in the Haiti's situation can be a significant factor into the poverty in Haiti. How these bodies and nations take a role in activities in Haiti may largely accelerate or reduce poverty in Haiti. In examining the geographical position of the nation, certain factors such as natural calamities and disasters may also largely affect the poverty situation in Haiti. In tackling this problem in Haiti, the research uses both dependent and independent variables. Poverty is the dependent variables while various factors that may accelerate or reduce the level of poverty are the independent variables. These independent variables may include both internal and external factors. Internal factors are political and social structures in the nation, geographical location of the nation and macroeconomic structures. External factors include foreign aid from other nations and international bodies such as UN Aid and IMF Aid. The effect of each variable in relation to the poverty in Haiti is important in understanding the problem. To analyze the problem in Haiti, the research uses a time frame of 13 years that is from 1995 to 2008. The reason for this period is the availability of research materials about the situation in Haiti and the significance of the problem during this period.
There are various definitions of poverty. In general, poverty refers to the inability to meet basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. It is the inability to pay for basic needs of humans and it simply described as being poor. Poverty incorporates many aspects of society. Poverty is a complex problem, which requires a keen examination into the many factors of the society. In the case of Haiti, poverty is more than just a lack of money to meet the primary needs. It is about people and families. It is robs people of their dreams for tomorrow and a severe deprivation of basic human needs which include water, healthcare, food and education. Studies indicate that, the poverty situation in Haiti encompasses a multitude of social issues including lack of proper housing and resources. Studies show that an estimated 80% 0f Haitians live in absolute poverty with a vast gap existing between a tiny wealthy minority and the overwhelming poor majority. According to Verner (2007, p. 16), in 2001, Haiti's extreme household poverty was at 49% which means more than 3.9 million people live in extreme poverty.
Poverty levels in Haiti vary from one region to another. Researches indicate availability of more job opportunities in urban areas, which lead to high migrations into these urban centers. Large populations in the urban centers result in poor living conditions especially in the slums. Studies by Verner 2007 explain that, there a large difference in poverty among localities and regions in the nation. Data from 2001 statistics indicate that, rural households had the highest rates of extreme poverty with an approximate of 58% being extremely poor. Over the last decade, poverty levels have significantly increased especially due to fall in prices of agricultural products, which has a high contribution to the Haiti economy. Poverty levels in the rural areas of Haiti rise due to the migration of people to urban towns to seek white-collar jobs. The vast gap between the poor and the rich class does not allow equal distribution of resources especially in the rural areas, which forms the backbone of agricultural productivity in the nation. Many factors contribute to the increased levels of poverty in Haiti. Independent macroeconomic factors that significantly contribute to increased poverty include inadequate levels of investment, poor institutional capacity, underinvestment in human capital, especially education and poor quality of social spending.
A report by the International Monetary Fund (2001, p.38) indicates that, majority of macroeconomic accelerators of the economy are funded by donors and implemented directly by non-governmental organizations. Political instability in Haiti influences this situation, which destructs smooth flow of the macroeconomic activities. Donor funding is also not constant and results in breaking down of macroeconomic chains when there are no funds. Due to poverty and disparities, people have little or nothing to save in order to speed up the pace of economic development in Haiti. Investment in human capital in terms of education is necessary for economic development IMF reports (2001,p.39) shows that, enrollment in schools mainly in the rural area primary schools is as low as 64% and only 15% for secondary schools. The private sector provides much of the education, NGOs in particular. The report also shows high rates of school dropouts with two thirds of children dropping out before completing the six-year course. Studies by Verner (2007, p. 17) indicate that from 1995 illiteracy levels have significantly increased reaching 43.3% in the year 2000. Verner explains that, efforts to lower illiteracy are hampered by the fact that many of the illiterates are adult people. Poor education leads to insufficient skilled labor force required for economic development and poverty reduction.
Regulation of macroeconomic factors is not easy due to money laundering and poor institutional capacity. The central bank does not carry its monetary functions effectively due to political interferences. Allocation of funds into beneficial sectors of the economy is not on equitable resource allocation basis. The funds go into sectors that do not aim to tackle the problem of poverty. Projects handled by the central bank are not self-sustaining and increase the government's dept. Much of the government resources end up into repaying loans that international loans that are not beneficial to the nation. Poor quality of social spending accelerates poverty levels because people use much of their income on current expenditures. This result from the fact that people desire to meet their essential needs and very little is available for saving. Political instability leads to poor formulation of rules and regulations that maintains a stable macroeconomic condition. Poverty in Haiti has a relation to underutilization or unavailability of assets particularly human and physical capital, credit and basic services.
Poor governance and political instability characterize the poverty condition in Haiti. A strategy report paper by the International monetary Fund (2008, p. 25) indicates that, poverty in Haiti is tied to a historical process of building political power and organizing the economy around the interests of the rich minority. The report further explains that, the root causes of poverty in Haiti lie in the lack of opportunities, unequal distribution of resources and assets, and constraints related to their use. Political instability and poor governance characterized by poor resource allocation does not provide easy access to potential economic resources by investors. Political instability does not attract potential investors in the country. IMF strategy paper 2008 explains that poor and weak policies by the Haitian government also play a role in accelerating poverty levels in Haiti. Political instability and corruption contributes to poverty in Haiti for many…