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A little over 200 years ago, Haiti gained its independence from France, which turned out being one of the worst mistakes this country would ever make. Haiti’s economy would spend over a century repaying the French and not focusing on the development of their own country (Labrador). Therefore, Haiti remains as a developing country that continues to struggle year after year, they rely heavily on other countries for assistance to survive. In fact, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and there are no signs of improvement for the Haitians (Labrador). As I have learned before, Haitians GDP per capita (average annual income) is roughly $800, which is astonishing to gather considering in the United States our GDP per capita is roughly $60,000. Meaning, the average Haitian family lives on around $2 per day. In the United States, it is extremely difficult to comprehend the degree of poverty most Haitians face daily. There are several reasons for the corrupt economy in Haiti, but throughout this research paper, I will be focusing on the environmental issues that have negatively affected the Haitian economy. I will be elaborating on the economic effects of the 2010 earthquake, deforestation, and the lack of sanitation.
To begin with, it is important to discuss the effects of one of the most devastating natural disasters to ever happen to a country. In January of 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake, killing approximately 250,000 people, while injuring roughly a half-million others (Kent). Accordingly, the earthquake did even more damage to the 1 million people who owned small businesses and homes in Haiti (Kent). An earthquake is known to many scholars as the most devastating natural disaster a country can face in modern days (Amadeo). Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was the center of the earthquake causing complete destruction and leaving the city without homes, public services and ways of income (Amadeo). Most importantly, the schools in Haiti were destroyed, which is significant because the lack of education is the main reason for poverty in Haiti. Before the earthquake, only 65% of children were attending school, but after the earthquake devastated Haitians, the country is nowhere close to enrolling kids in classes close to the 65-percentage range again (Kent). Accordingly, the educated families in Haiti usually immigrate to find better job opportunities away from Haiti, because there are not many great opportunities in Haiti (Kent). To summarize, roughly 20% of Haiti’s 10 million population was affected drastically by the earthquake in 2010 (Amadeo).
Nevertheless, before the earthquake struck in 2010, Haiti had promising economic development rising, there were signs of growth and improvements, but Haiti remained as the poorest country in the western hemisphere (Amadeo). Some scholars saw the earthquake in Haiti as an opportunity for a new beginning and others saw the earthquake as the end (Kent). I believe the 2010 earthquake left Haitians without any hope for improvement in the near future. The Haitian communities are strong-minded, resilient individuals, but I do not see a method in which Haiti can use to recover from this devastating natural disaster. Following the earthquake, Haiti had an estimated $14 billion in damages (Amadeo). Furthermore, through massive donations from other countries and debt relief from Venezuela and credit card companies, there were still hardly any signs of recovery for this poor country (Amadeo). Following the earthquake, the United States donated massive amounts of money to help begin the recovery process, but Haitian’s struggled to begin the process because of the amount of damage in infrastructure and inefficiency of the workers (Kent). Finally, with a lack of tax revenue and uncertainty of promised aid from countries the government continues to struggle with providing basic needs, such as; food, water, and shelter to their community (Kent). To summarize, I pray Haiti finds hope and a way to recovery, but I do not believe Haiti will ever become a developed country.
Secondly, deforestation has been an ongoing issue in Haiti, for centuries, ever since they gained their independence from France. In fact, Haiti has the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Haiti only has 2% of its original rainforest left in the country (Burger). This has led to massive amounts of flooding, erosion, habitat destruction, and home loss (Burger). However, the majority of Haitians rely on wood as part of their daily lives for cooking, heating, and selling of charcoal to cities for their families to make money (“Deforestation in Haiti”). The government also relies on charcoal as being an export to other countries, it brings in a small amount of revenue to Haiti. Haitians families must live day to day, they never know what the future may hold. Also, farmers in Haiti need the land for small scale farming, so they must cut down the trees to have the pasture for new farming (Burger). Therefore, not only are farmers ruining plants and animals’ habitats, they are ruining a source of income for the country in tourism.
Accordingly, I believe in the next 100 years Haiti will suffer from a mass extinction of animals, while people will be urgent in leaving the country. All the rain forests will be eliminated from deforestation and the massive amounts of rainfall will completely wash all farming away in Haiti. Economically, there will not be a way for families to survive in this country because the lack of government assistance they receive annually. The government has not pursued another method of energy for Haitian families, so they are forced to continue cutting down trees for charcoal to survive each day (“Deforestation in Haiti”). Also, it is nearly impossible to have the farmers in Haiti plant trees over their pasture, to restore the environment (Burger). Simply, there is no economic value to this method, and the farmers do not have the ability or income to help restore the environment. The farmers are worried about helping their families survive from day to day instead of helping their country reach their peak. To summarize, the economy in Haiti will continue to suffer because of the inefficient use in agriculture unless the government is willing to step in to make a change.
Lastly, it is important to emphasize how the lack of sanitation in Haiti has negatively affected the economy. Haiti, as a country, lacks the basic sanitation needs in preventing infectious diseases and protecting health (Lefevre). Haiti is the most deprived country in the western hemisphere, with a wide margin, of services in safe water and sanitation (Gelting). In fact, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the access to safe water has decreased dramatically in both rural and urban areas (Gelting). Since the year of 2010, Haiti has been affected by an ongoing cholera epidemic that has resulted in massive amounts of reported cases and deaths (Gelting). Simply, cholera is due to a lack of shelter and safe waste removal areas for families. For example, without a safe toilet to remove waste from the human body, people will have to go outdoors to use the bathroom (Lefevre). Therefore, this enhances the chances of spreading deadly infectious diseases to others, mainly known as cholera (Lefevre). Also, without safe sanitation, the waste is entering sewer lines and under groundwater sources opposing more danger to the families with access to “safe” water supplies (Lefevre). Therefore, lack of sanitation and safe water supplies affect the economy directly by the costs of treating sanitation illnesses, air quality and water pollution.
Accordingly, Haiti needs to work diligently on the improvement of water and sanitation. Interestingly, before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there were no treatment facilities or waste disposal in Haiti (Lefevre). Therefore, Haitians would dump waste in the open public causing a major risk of deadly diseases, which needed to be fixed in a hurry. Furthermore, since the earthquake CDC and DINEPA have worked together in partnership to continue finding ways to treat waste throughout Haiti (Lefevre). There still has not been a resolution, but the partnership is working hard each day to find the answer to this problem. However, I feel as if the waste dilemma will continue to be an issue in the future, due to the continued lack of homes and waste disposal areas throughout the country. The lack of infrastructure in Haiti and technological advancements will continue being the biggest issue when trying to find the solution for unsafe water and lack of sanitation in Haiti.
To conclude, Haiti’s economy is suffering and will continue to suffer for various reasons, but none bigger than natural disasters, deforestation, and lack of sanitation. Haiti is a third world country that is still developing, with a lack of hope and relief for its citizens. Citizens in Haiti live in horrific poverty areas throughout the country and they continue to need our help and support. The economy in Haiti is struggling and will continue to struggle because of the lack of economic development and tax revenue. Also, Haiti is suffering from an extreme trade deficit due to more imports coming into the country than exports leaving the country. Finally, due to the harsh living conditions and economic situations in Haiti, it is nearly impossible for families to live in Haiti currently.
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