A hurricane had just hit your home and you are left with nothing. Help will not come because the government has some issues. Meanwhile, you are just there hoping to get some help. In the Carribeans, Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the country of Dominican Republic. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the developing world. Due to the government’s instability and the natural disasters that had occurred, the country lacks resources and has a weak education system which in turn leads to their poverty.
To have a strong economy and environment, the government plays a huge part. However in the Haitian community, the government is unstable. Before the president, Jovenal Moise, entered in 2017 there was a period of political instability. Haiti was without president for about a year after the previous president, Michel Martelly, left office in February of 2016. The senate then voted an interim president until a new president can be put in place.
At one point, Michel Martelly was accused of fraud as well as the other presidents (Silva). Even now with the new president, there’s no peace within the haitian community on account of the ongoing protests because of alleged corruption.
Recently, the president launched an investigation on the misuse of funds by government officials. “In October of 2017, a Haitian Senate report detailed how, between 2008 and 2016, funds that had been accumulated through Haiti’s participation in Venezuela’s oil-purchasing program, Petrocaribe were misused, misappropriated, or embezzled by government officials and their cronies in the private sector” (Danticat).
It was said that the Petrocaribe funds were to be used to build infrastructure and social and development projects. Protesters took to the streets demanding the government to be clear about where the money went (Lemaire, Sandra, et al). It just comes to show how weak and distorted the government of Haiti is. Good leadership would most likely help the situation.
Moreover when it came to natural disasters, there was little to no help and the people depended mostly on humanitarian work. In 2010, an earthquake devastated the country of Haiti. It reached the magnitude of 7.0 and soon followed by two aftershocks of magnitudes 5.9 and 5.5. However, it was only thirty five seconds. Haiti has not experienced an earthquake this bad since the eighteenth century. Because of poor standards of construction, the buildings were prone to collapsing. It resulted in many deaths and destruction of the country. It either killed or trapped the resident living under weak infrastructure. “It was estimated that some three million people were affected by the quake—nearly one-third of the country’s total population” (Pallardy).
They were already facing tons of problems with their resources such as electricity and water. The earthquake added on to the many difficulties they were about to face. In addition, many prisoners escaped after the quake damaged the penitentiary. The hospitals too were struggling. Since people had to wait days to receive treatment and the morgues were filled up, the dead were stacked in the streets. Around 13 billions dollars was raised and given to Haiti in efforts to help them get back on their feet. According to a report by NBC news regarding the money “$3 billion has already been spent, and the rest is dedicated to longer-term projects”. “Still, there is no doubt many lives were saved and good work was done, under daunting circumstances and in the face of overwhelming destruction (Conner, Tracy, et al). Although going back to the mismanagement of PetroCaribe funds, the government buildings and housing that the money was intended for never came to be. Politicians owed two billion dollars in debt to the PetroCaribe project (Ferguson).
Natural disasters made matters worse as the people were already struggling with the poverty-stricken country. Years later in 2016, they experienced another disaster, Hurricane Matthew. It damaged most of their crops and destroyed their exports. It cut the communication lines and roads and bridges were ruined. The hurricane caused heavy flooding and landslides. Until now, people are still trying to regain their strength. Some are living in housings and some in camps. It affected the life of the nation because it made it harder for them to obtain better education.
The humanitarian aid to the citizens of Haiti assisted them in many ways. For instance, camps, as mentioned, were set up after the earthquake when a lot of people lost their homes. Others are still residing in them. The European Commission who has been helping for many years contributed by providing them with money, the amount of 401 million in humanitarian aid since 1994. Other factors such as Save The Children has helped the young ones and the adults also by providing shelter, sanitary water, and health services.
Yet, Haitians has little access to education which produces issues of knowledge and basic skills to survive in the labor force (“Education/Haiti”). Though they are struggling, there are some achievements on developing the education system. The United States Agency for International Development is supporting the government of Haiti’s education efforts by improving the way the children read and write. Also with the teachers they are assisting them with more training. “Our education experts have designed and implemented programs for elementary school-aged kids that transform students into lifelong learners by building strong curriculums and passionate teachers” (“Help Children in Haiti”).
The estimated unemployment rate was about 70 percent. One report stated that “families can only afford to send one child to school” (Flintoff). To get by, others sell things from water bottles, phone cards to hand-me-down baby clothes, anything to earn money. Over the years, Haiti has been struggling with their unsanitary water and the unavailability of electricity. So when the natural disasters happened it made it even worse than it already was. And due to the government’s misuse of the money to recover, people are still trying to recuperate from earthquake and hurricane.
The problem of water scarcity had increased when the natural disasters damaged sources of water such as the wells and water systems. “According to a study conducted by The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, ‘only 55.2 percent of the population has access to an improved water source, while close to 70 percent does not have direct access to potable water” (“Water in Crisis”). With electricity, there is a broken electricity sector and they mostly depend on charcoal. Prior to the earthquake, at least one-quarter of the population had access to electricity. But even though people had access it still wasn’t useful. “This lack of access to affordable and reliable power hinders investment, constrains the development of productive businesses, and degrades living standards for residential customers” (“Energy”).
Poverty in Haiti has not shown progress especially when there is barely any involvement or help by the government. Also, the natural disasters did not help either. Instead it made it worse. Due to the government instability and natural disasters that occured over the past years in Haiti, it weakened the education system and destroyed the resources such as electricity and water for the people. The ongoing protests represents an unstable authority mainly because of the alleged corruption within. Although, there are some efforts to help the impoverished in the country it is still in need of good leadership. Education is a huge impact to a better or stronger community. With this it can lend a helping hand to the suffering country.