Research Paper Example on Poverty in Haiti

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Harvey Mudd College
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Research paper
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Haiti is a Caribbean country that has experienced an economic crisis for several years. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere with over 80 percent of the citizens languish in poverty and more than half of the population living in extreme poverty with less than $1 a day (Sletten & Egset, 2004). There has been a negative trend in Haiti economy after the 1991 coup as a result of political instability and hence the increase in poverty levels among the citizens. With a population of nearly 10 million people, slightly over 1.5 million residents earn more than $2 a day, hence poverty in Haiti is so extreme that there are approximately 6 million people who do not meet the basic needs such as food (Sletten & Egset, 2004). Haiti, like many other fragile countries in the world, has experienced rising levels of poverty attributed to widespread inequality among the people, soaring unemployment rates, poor governance, environmental degradation, and corruption.

Poverty is a development issue in Haiti because it touches every citizen in the country. It is an important issue in the society that needs urgent measures and interventions because when a country is poor, the government may not provide essential services to the people hence more crisis is experienced. Poverty is important because it has a lot of consequences on the people as it lowers the standard of living. For instance, Haiti people have suffered a myriad of troubles attributed to the inability of the people to break away from the ravages of poverty. Haiti has experienced eventualities such as poor housing, unclean water, poor education systems, low productivity, low or no income at all, high childbirths, many dependents, and rampant corruption in the government. All these eventualities are passed from one generation to the next, and hence the young generation, as well as those to come, are subjected to the same hereditary plagues.

When the citizens of a country live in extreme poverty, suffering will spread to the whole world. This is because poverty compromises the global health of the public, leads to poor school attendance, and the spread of despair and hopelessness. Low income among the parents as a result of unemployment ravages the children as they cannot go to school or if they do, they do not see the need to work hard and improve their lives because of poor role models in their parents who have failed in almost everything. These children will resort to alcohol and substance abuse as well as drug trafficking as they see it as a perfect way to cope with stress and despair in their lives. Indulgence in drugs and trafficking has resulted in other effects to the nation. Perito and Maly (2007) argue that drugs aggravate poverty as it undermines the government through corruption among police officers, trafficking of weapons, hampered economic advancement through discouraged foreign investors and tourists, and violence.

Poverty is also essential because the whole society feels its effects. It causes social tension and has can easily divide the nation as a result of unequal distribution of resources by the government. This is because there are inequalities regarding income earned by the people where there are a few wealthy people. For example, Haitians have felt the brunt of unequal distribution of resources because wealth is concentrated in the northern part of Haiti. Ansari (2010) posits that wealth ownership in Haiti is concentrated only on the small percentage of the population which controls over 60 percent of the assets of the country. The small portion includes the political class and the elites. Furthermore, the marginalized people such as squatters, renters, people living around the poorest Haitian neighborhoods of the capital city, and those in other areas outside the city do not receive an equal amount of assistance from the government as compared to those living in affluent neighborhoods (Ansari, 2010).

A further inequality is seen in the countrys water and sanitation. Before the earthquake, the city residents had access to water supply from the municipality and efficient sanitation systems. Despite this, not all the people were provided with access to water and sanitation systems because Ansari (2010) argues that more than three million people spent their meagre income and time in finding water from sources such as local vendors, carrying from springs and rivers, and trucking water, without assurance that this water was clean and safe for consumption. Additionally, poor households did not have access to municipal sewerage systems and were forced to use pit latrines, street side drains, and haul-away systems while affluent neighborhoods have municipal connections. Such skewed distribution of facilities and wealth have heightened historical tensions in the form of street demonstrations, clashes, and riots between the wealthy elites and the poor Haitians which threaten the stability of the entire country.

Poverty is also important because of its effects on powerless victims such as children. Haitian children have been affected by poverty as they have the least choice and ability to change what poverty brings to them as there is nothing much they can do to help their families. The consequences of poverty such as unemployment, low income, poor infrastructure, malnutrition, and violence at home have impacted the childrens lives in Haiti. These children have been, therefore, forced to look for employment. The worsening economic situation has also contributed to children looking for direct and indirect employment and hence jeopardizing school attendance. Clammer (2016) notes that Haiti has had a long system of child labor where children are employed indirectly to work as domestic servants. These children are never paid, but attend school though they are made to work for long hours, are mistreated, cut off from their families, poorly fed, and are vulnerable to sexual violence. This circle of poverty, therefore, needs immediate attention.

Another crucial reason why poverty is essential is that it provides an avenue for the provision of interventions that will go a long way in helping the people to get out of it. It is not possible to help the poor without knowing the statistics about their situation. Before interventions by either the government or any institution, a poverty profile is needed. It tells the significant facts about poverty, examines its pattern, geographical variation by region, community, and household characteristics. In Haiti, different people have done poverty profiles and have given a lot of information pertaining the issue. For instance, Sletten and Egset (2004) carried out a study on poverty in Haiti and found out that poverty rates in the rural parts of Haiti is two times more than those living in metropolitan areas, which is attributed to the difference in income between the capital city and the rural areas. Sletten and Egset (2004) affirm that two third of the population live in rural areas, which translates to 77 percent of the impoverished Haitians living in rural areas. All these statistics are vital in coming up with intervention strategies.

The poverty levels in Haiti justifies the need for action to address this plight that has ravaged majority of the population. For instance, there is need to address the poverty levels in rural areas because Sletten and Egset (2004) found out that majority of the impoverished people live in rural areas and proposes the need to understand rural poverty which is essential in the planning for poverty reductions. Living in rural areas influences the ability for one to earn income because there is a combination of factors such as the adverse climatic conditions, lack of infrastructure, and soil erosion. Low-income levels justify the need for action because there are types of human capital that are not available in rural Haiti yet they are crucial to economic advancement. For instance, educational attainment among the rural residents is low, and it determines the income earned. Despite the migration from areas where there are scarce resources and infrastructure, there are obstacles that have deterred the poor from moving away from their homes. These include personal ties, inadequate information of where to migrate to and the risk of more poverty after migration.

Moreover, Haitians have poor access to essential medical services because the provision of health by the state is limited. According to the World Bank (2006), approximately 30 percent of health facilities are public with most of them located in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide nearly 70 percent of health services in rural areas focused majorly on primary health care, HIV/AIDS screening, drug counseling, reproductive health, and infant care (World Bank, 2006). There are hospitals run by private foundations, yet the state retains the delivery of secondary and tertiary care, referral, and oversight. Access to services in Haiti is patchy, unequal, unstable and poorly coordinated. The state has limited capacity and resources to provide basic services directly to the people because of poor policy guidelines and unregulated partnership between the private and public sectors. Wamai and Larkin (2011) posit that the shortage of trained staff, lack of essential drugs, equipment and the unequal distribution of nurses and doctors to all regions have hampered the provision of health services by the state hence justifying a need for action.

The provision of educating to Haitian children especially in rural areas has been neglected by the state as there are a poor access and quality of education. Haiti has the highest illiteracy rate in the western hemisphere as more than half of the population send their children to an underfunded and disorganized school system (Todaro & Smith, 2015). Despite the increase in educational attainment in urban areas as compared to rural areas, the quality is alarmingly low as there is a significant difference in school attendance in the region. For instance, the youths and children in poor areas of Haiti have fallen behind their counterparts in urban areas inhabited by the rich. Moreover, Haitian children from non-poor households are more educated than those in low-income families. The enrolment rates and access vary as children from non-poor households have more access to education as compared to children from poor homes (Sletten & Egset, 2004).

Education is a vital approach to reducing poverty and inequalities as education remains the best means of mitigating the risks of crime and conflicts by the enhanced opportunities it provides. Furthermore, the relationship between education and poverty is important and justifies the need for action against inadequate education. Education raises the economic growth and alleviates poverty because educated citizens have higher incomes as compared to the uneducated. When education attainment is raised, poverty falls drastically, and the standard of living is improved. The need for action is also justified by the destruction of school infrastructure by natural disasters which destroys the available schools. For example, during the hurricane Mathew of 2016, there were up to three hundred schools that were flattened, and over 100,000 learners were affected either directly or indirectly as classrooms, books, homes, and textbooks were ruined (UNICEF, 2016). There is a need, therefore, to rehabilitate schools damaged by the hurricane, provide teachers and students with school supplies such as teaching materials and furniture as well as the provision of physical and emotional support to children.

Environmental degradation in Haiti has also contributed to the soaring poverty levels because of bad economic and regulatory policies. It is justifiable that severe environmental degr...

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