Report: Economic crisis in Haiti


Economic crisis in Haiti since the earthquake of 2010

Several years after the catastrophic earthquake that devastated Haiti, the country is starting to move from the response to the rehabilitation stage. Despite massive international donations, the long-term recovery from the disaster has not even begun. There are many factors responsible for this delayed progress, as donor countries are sending aid according to their own priorities, and the limited working capacity of the Haitian government’s agencies to handle a crisis of such enormous proportions. In Léogâne, which is located at the epicenter, 80% of the buildings collapsed or were severely damaged. Over 1.5 million people were directly affected by the earthquake.

It was estimated that over 300,000 people lost their lives and more than 330,000 were injured in the earthquake.  More than 100,000 homes were completely destroyed and around 208,000 severely damaged.  Approximately 1,300 educational institutions and over 50 medical centers and hospitals collapsed or were damaged, and  13 out of 15 key government buildings were decimated.  The Haitian government estimates that the damage caused by the earthquake is more than 120% of Haiti’s 2009 gross domestic product.The earthquake affected all segments of Haitian society.  Approximately 150,000 Haitians left the country.  At least 600,000 people abandoned damaged urban areas to find shelter in the most rural areas of the country.  The invasion of people worsened the already grave demands for essentials.

One year after the earthquake, about 1.5 million people still live in tents and improvised shelters in the Port-au-Prince metro area.  The earthquake exacted heavy casualties on the Haitian national government and UN personnel, severely limiting the official capacity essential for the recovery process.  The severe damage or collapse of 13government buildings caused the loss of innumerable government documents and innumerable government functionaries.  Much of Haiti’s economic activity is carried out in Port-au-Prince, where the severest of the earthquake’s brunt was felt.

Port-au-Prince produced nearly 85% of the official revenue.  Thousands of jobs have vanished, adding to the pre-earthquake estimate of roughly 70% unemployment. Progress has also been hampered by the debris on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the belated conversion of pledges into solid funding, and the complex tenure system prevalent in the country. This poses the greatest drawback to the reconstruction of Haiti. Most of the records or deeds were destroyed by the earthquake, and the identification of government-owned land, or another available land is not possible.  In the absence of records, it is difficult to know who owns what, and this seems to be the main obstacle in the reconstruction process.

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