Haiti is one of the least developed and one of the poorest countries in the world; 65% of the Haitian population lives below the poverty line. Economic hardship, coupled with political instability, has compounded the impact of natural disasters on the condition of Haitian children, particularly in terms of health, education, welfare, etc.
In 2010, Haiti was struck by what has been called the strongest earthquake since 1770. The 7.0 quake with aftershocks ranging from 4.2 to 5.9 affected at least three million people and increased poverty in Haiti. But in the last three years, the world at large has turned away from the struggle of the Haitian people to focus on newer problems. The fact remains, though, that aid is still needed. Here are the top five facts you should know about Haiti’s poverty:
- Even before the earthquake hit, 1.9 million people were in need of food assistance. Around 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1.00 a day. As a result, malnutrition and anemia run rampant. Haiti is the third hungriest country in the world.
- Only 50 percent of the people have access to an improved water source, such as a hand pump or a well. This means that most of the population depends on lakes, streams and rivers for their water, regardless of the cleanliness. Even if some people can get to better water than others, a total of 80 percent do not have adequate sanitation available. So even if they run less risk of becoming ill from bad water, they are unable to clean themselves and are susceptible to disease and infection.
- Only fifty percent of children living in Haiti are able to go to school, while 30 percent of those only progress to the fifth grade. As a result, half of Haitians are illiterate. Without a proper education, the people are unable to break free of the cycle of poverty.
- Haiti is the poorest country in the world with a poverty rate of 77 percent, closely followed by Guinea with a 76.7 percent poverty rate. The World Bank estimates that the earthquake caused about $8 million in damage, or 120 percent of the GDP.
- There is a large population of orphaned children in Haiti, many of whom are living on the streets. There were an estimated 380,000 prior to the earthquake and untold thousands added to that number after it. There are also about 250,000 restaveks, or children working as servants and often treated as slaves.
It is easy to put the continued suffering of Haiti out of one’s mind when other world disasters have since risen to the forefront, but that does not mean that Haiti stopped warranting the world’s attention. The earthquake may have happened almost seven years ago, but the people there are still greatly in need of assistance and guidance. –