Poverty in Haiti


Poverty is one of the significant problems that Haiti is facing presently. Poverty in Haiti is caused by several factors structural or cultural. Furthermore, Haiti’s debt is a result of decades of exploitation from European colonizers. Nonetheless, Haiti also lacks the capacity to influence social processes, public policies, and resource allocation. She requires access to the relevant skills, knowledge, education, and personal development that are essential for the development of a society. Throughout this article, it is argued that international Aid, corruption, slavery, and unemployment are some of the main factors that cause Poverty in Haiti. However, even though Haiti is a developing country, it has lots of resources that can be most helpful to her development. Conversely, we can infer that to reduce or eradicate poverty; it is necessary to have strong institutions, transparent governments, equitable distribution of resources, and integrity of character in governments.

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Pierre, G. (2020) Poverty in Haiti. Open Journal of Political Science, 10, 407-427. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2020.103025.

1. Introduction

Poverty in Haiti has multiple causes culturally and structurally. Studies found that Poverty in Haiti is caused by several factors such as corruption and poor governance, limited employment opportunities, poor infrastructure, inadequate resources usage, wars, and unending conflicts, political instability, poor World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies among others. Slavery, Aid, and lack of education, just to name a few, are the most significant causes of poverty in Haiti. Poverty is one situation that every single individual does not wish to experience because of the economic problems that one is subjected to. There are a series of theories that are used in explaining the reasons for nationwide poverty. Human behavior is a crucial factor.

Poverty in developed countries like Haiti is devastating due to its impact in some areas because Haitians tend to emigrate at any cost. Poverty in Haiti is so excruciating that the majority of the Haitian population finds it almost impossible to meet their basic needs such as shelter, education, and healthcare, clothing, food, to name a few. Basically, certain people in this developing country are dealing with hunger; they hardly have enough to eat. Some of them rely on day laboring to provide for their families. In fact, in the World Bank’s view, “poverty is also hunger, poverty is lack of shelter, and poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor.” People may disagree about the nature of Poverty in Haiti, but there are tangible examples of how slavery, in many ways, contributes to the existence of Poverty in Haiti.

The shackle of abject poverty imposed upon Haiti has its roots in a host of conflicts which shall be herein described. And, congruously with many neighboring post-colonial societies in the western hemisphere, its impact is dire and not far-fetched. Throughout the early post-slavery periods, from roughly 1804 to the present era, Eurocentric publications, which in turn culminated in volumes of pseudo-academic literature, have leapt. Of course, many of these works have been published by orotund cretins, slave masters and clans, jingoistic propagandists, slave investors and writers from the un-enlightenment movement which took place primarily in Europe. Such deluding and stigmatizing publications principally made available in polysyllables, of which excerpts have long been made available to colleges and universities worldwide, collectively precipitated drastic destitution in Haiti today. For instance, we may infer from the works of Craig Steven Wilder, “Ebony and Ivy,” and Lothrop Stoddard, “the Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy,” that the genesis of the white world supremacy movement burgeoned within the American lucky universities and media as a result of the Haitian’s Independence of 1803, in addition to other preceding related events, which then frightened American slave masters. In fact, the Haitian Independence had raised eyebrows and thus gave the American slaves a surge of confidence, which would soon propel them but to seek freedom from the yoke of slavery unsuccessfully. Excerpts from the Haitian pre-independence era, discourses from the freedom movements, early American conversations, and chronological Haitian history have shown ample evidence of the progressive causes of the conditions in which Haiti has mired herself into. So, the process of dehumanization during slavery and the campaign of inferiorization of Haiti after slavery have contributed to the Haitian leaders of having besotted with European cultures while hating their own, engaged in grossest of corruptions while despise those who look like them, etc. Thus, we need to understand two major forces that wreak havoc Haiti, which thereby hinder progress: 1) External attacks to impede economic growth 2) Internal conflicts resulted from post-traumatic slave syndrome whereby mutants and puppet governments effectively act against the interests of the public. (A more extensive elucidation of the engine for Poverty in Haiti may be available in the works of sincere Africans, African American historians, and Haitian scholars who have thrown themselves into insatiable curiosity and began to research honest archives.) That is the reason why Haiti needs an economic growth of the type that can radically change the present condition of scarcity and improve the quality of life. Economic growth is vital for eradicating Poverty because Poverty increases crime, corruption, and robbery and affects the economic growth of communities in developing countries, especially in Haiti.

In this article, we will see some cultural and structural causes of Poverty in Haiti, for the most part, and how we can work together in efforts to alleviate poverty, to eradicate it, and lead Haiti consistently to its economic development.

1) Cultural and Structural Causes of Poverty

The factors that cause Poverty in Haiti can be categorized as cultural or structural. They are also more permanent and depend on a host of factors such as limited resources, lack of skills, locational disadvantages; and other factors that are inherent in the social and political set-up as well as the transitional causes which are mainly due to structural adjustment reforms and changes in domestic economic policies that may result in price changes, unemployment and so on.

Citing the United Nations Development Program, Oxfam warns of the danger of discounting a hierarchy of poverty, which demands the identification and inclusion of all sectors of society; the report observes that general strategies for alleviation may not incorporate the needs of all poor people. According to the report, the poorest among the poor are people who are the worst in terms of physiological deprivation, suffering from income poverty, social exclusion, and a lack of freedom. The report concludes with a definition of the poor as those who are unemployed and are unskilled, whose daily meals cannot be guaranteed except with the assistance of others because their incomes are meager.

The World Bank (online) measures poverty concerning the proportion of the developing countries’ population living in extreme economic poverty as “living on less than $1 per day”.

In Haiti devising a primary poverty band, for instance, $1 based on a standard of minimum needs for food, clothing, shelter, health, and schooling rather than a poverty line would serve better (primary poverty band is a wide income/spending margin), a poverty line is generally defined as a minimum level of income or expenditure below which an individual or household is designated as “poor”. This is because most families in Haiti have no incomes or have incomes below the various poverty line levels. This is particularly relevant when we acknowledge the difficulty in defining an adequate minimum when the standard of living itself changes all the time.

To make that statement, let’s draw a comparison between the living conditions of somebody in the United States of America and the life situation in Haiti.

In the United States, most people start the day with a lovely shower, brush teeth with the water running, flush the toilet, wash hands couple times, even before sitting down to eat breakfast, they use enough water to fill the average bathtub. By the end of the day, like many other people who live in the United States, more than 350 liters of water might be used, enough to fill a bathtub two or three times. For them, potable water, which they can even drink from the sink if they want to, plentiful water supply in no farther away than the nearest tap. As soon as you have the money to pay it, it is always available, which sometimes they also take for granted. However, life in Haiti is another story different from the one in the United States; some people get up early, get dress, balanced a large basin on their head, and walk for about eight-kilometer to the nearest river. There they get their bath, brush their teeth, filled the bowl with water, and then return home and get ready to go to school if they have the opportunity to go. This daily routine takes about 3 to 4 hours. For the next hour with the help of some friends, some of them filter the water to remove parasites and then divide it into couple containers, one for the household use, one for drinking and one to take a bath at night. They have to wash hands, clothes etc. in the river. And for some people, it’s kind worst because they have to walk further to get to the river. When it is appreciated that reliable statistics on poverty are missing in Haiti, the futility of providing a rigid poverty line becomes even more convincing.

According to Oppenheim, Poverty is not about the shortage. It is about rights and relationships; about how people are treated and how they regard themselves; about powerlessness, exclusion and loss of dignity. Yet, the lack of an adequate income is at its heart … An absolute definition of poverty assumes that it is possible to define a minimum standard of living based on a person’s needs and not on broader social and cultural needs.

Absolute poverty is when people fall below this level when they do not have houses, clothes, or means to feed themselves (Oppenheim, 1993: p. 28).

According to Glazer (2000), culture tends to be an explanatory variable that theorists and policymakers look to when attempting to explain social dysfunction, mainly due to the sometimes visible connection between cultures and race. This may be why cultural arguments waned from the discussion and why some theorists and policymakers came to link poverty to behavior (Mead, 1986), or to rational calculation (Murray, 1984). These scholars argue that poverty is mostly the result of social and behavioral deficiencies in individuals that ostensibly make them less economically viable within conventional society. However, due to the persistence of poverty in certain areas, the behavioral perspective is reinforced by the culture of poverty thesis, which suggests that individuals create, sustain, and transmit to future generations a culture that reinforces the various social and behavioral deficiencies (Rodgers, 2000). A corollary to this perspective stresses the point that government policy perpetuates poverty and contributes to a variety of other social ills, including rising rates of divorce (Murray, 1984).

Nina Munk, the author of the 2013 book The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, says that poverty eradication projects endorsed by Sachs, although well intended, have, years later, “left people even worse off than before.” Sachs’s argument is that developing countries are stuck in a poverty trap from which there is no escape except by massively scaled-up foreign Aid. Sachs himself has emphasized the need for a multifaceted approach to economic development, of which increased and responsible foreign Aid is nearly always a necessary part.

Economic growth is one of the most powerful instruments that can help reduce poverty in Haiti and improve the quality of life in developing countries. Economic growth is vital for eradicating Poverty in Haiti because Poverty increases crime, corruption, and robbery and affects the economic growth of communities, especially in developing countries.

a) Education

Behind the philosophical thought that education makes a man what he is or who he is, we can say from the outset that lack of education is one of the fundamental causes of poverty in Haiti. To understand it, we must analyze some of the factors that limit progress of people around us. It is obvious the decision to invest in education if a country is aimed at reducing or eliminating poverty. Education is essential to success; the more you have educated people, the better chance you have to succeed. When you have well-educated parents, children are much more likely to follow their path with their parent’s support. Education should be the top priority of any government that is willing to move in the direction of sustainable development.

Poverty is still rising because education is meaningless for some governments in Haiti. In Haiti, education is often viewed as the main factor that can help fight poverty as it can help people find better jobs to take care of their families. Still, the level of unemployment stops parents from sending their kids to school, although education is emphasized as inherently related to wellbeing and to the development of the country. Without a proper education, it is hard to get a good job that can help manage a good income; therefore families cannot make better financial decisions due to the lack of education. However, in Haiti, education seems to no longer protect against poverty and social exclusion because there are well-educated people that are living in poverty due to the lack of employment.

b) Slavery

Slavery being an example of perhaps the most extractive institution with long term adverse effects on both the slaves’ country of origin and the economic development of areas with slave-based economies, but we can’t really understand slavery from a purely “areas with malaria” perspective, because obviously European racial ideology as well as the form of pre-existing institutions considered slavery as a source of income to the slave owner.

East Asian slave trade played a huge role in the growth of slavery, which later will lead them to prosperity through slave labor by working the slaves to their limit. Of the many post –Neolithic slave societies, those of Europe had the most apparent economic foundations. However, the Haitian slave trade was different because it resulted in excruciating Poverty for Haiti; Europeans colonized Haiti and exploited their resources to build their countries in Europe. Slavery played a vital role in the development of the United States, France, Spain, and England. Europe and the US had the advantage of being first to industrialize and gained tremendous power over traditional societies, and that is one of the controversial effects of their colonization. In fact, Slaves they took from Africa to bring to Haiti were used to grow sugar and other plantation crops, and it has been argued because they compromised the least-cost option. Europeans used Haiti as an exploitation colony; therefore, they exploited even the earth to their countries.

Robin Blackburn (1988) argued that the slaves of the New World were economic property, and the main motive for slaveholding was economic exploitation. Although there has been a lot of Topic regarding the reparations of slavery all over the World especially, in France, England and the United States of America, the “legacy” of slavery still resonates for many people (most likely Americans) according to Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year, with 63 % believing it affects the position of black people in American society today either a great deal or a fair amount.

According to the study, black adults are particularly likely to say slavery continues to have an impact: More than eight-in-ten say this is the case, including 59% who say the legacy of slavery affects the situation of black people a great deal. By comparison, 26% of whites, 29% of Hispanics, and 33% of Asians say slavery affects the position of black people in American society today a great deal. However, majorities of each group say it does so at least a fair amount” (Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/).

Black people around the World are recognized as Africans where ever they are, even though not all black are from Africa; therefore whites supremacists would see blacks as former slaves and victimize them even in their thinking, so the legacy of slavery will affect black people forever being from Africa or not, because as soon as you are black, you are classified as an African descendant and are treated as slave one way or another. That is also one of the Causes of Poverty in Haiti.

The legacy of slavery leads to colonialism and Neocolonialism. First of all, European colonialism and colonization were policies or practices of acquiring full custody of the slave for the purpose of the state-building process, economic development. Second of all, Neocolonialism is a continuation of the economic model of colonialism after a colonized territory has achieved formal political Independence. This concept was applied most commonly to Haiti in the latter half of the twentieth century. European countries had colonized Haiti in the late nineteenth century, instituting a system of economic exploitation in which Haitian raw materials, particularly cash crops and minerals, were expropriated and exported to the sole benefit of the colonizing power where they built their Empire at the expense of Haiti.

Over the last six decades, the historiography of the transatlantic slave trade radically impaired Haiti’s potential to develop economically and socially also. Moreover, it crushed the country’s social and cultural norms since the patterns of colonization emphasized the distinctive roles that Christianity and colonial power played into leading Haiti to Poverty.

c) International Aid

International Aid agencies are under immeasurable or high pressure to show results for the money invested in Haiti. There has been increasing support for international development programs as a way for Haiti to help develop the country. However, the criticism lies in the way foreign aid operates-In looking at the pros and cons of the effectiveness of international Aid, it is essential to assign accountability to both donors and recipients of Aid. Throughout the years, Some International Organizations such as USAID and some United Nations missions go back in forth to Haiti in the idea to help. Still, Haiti’s situation got worse under their leadership.

Haiti has many most abundant natural resources, yet it is economically declining and underdeveloped. In other words, Haiti, for some reason, has fallen to the bottom of economic performance. And despite all the natural resources, Haiti is still considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In another way, we should evaluate all the results. International Aid is so pervasive that economic development in Haiti becomes hindered. In fact, across the globe, the recipients of this Aid are worse off, much worse off. Aid has helped make the poor more miserable and grows slower because Aid brings corruption at the highest level…Yet Aid remains a centerpiece of today’s development policy and one of the biggest ideas of our time. The idea promotes that Aid can alleviate systemic poverty, and has done so, is a myth. Aid has been and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world” (Moyo, 2009: p. xix) Dead Aid is the story of the failure of post-war development policy.

Foreign Aid has been contracted for development projects, support, supplementing national budget, debt relief, Aid to attain the set Millennium Development Goals… which were supposed to lead those countries to functional income status etc., however the aid agency and the foreign Aid cannot meet the yield desired result because of their inefficacity to eradicate Poverty in Haiti. In Haiti, programs designed to fight poverty are not fully implemented because the funds end up in the hands of corrupt individuals. That’s one of the reasons Aid is not helpful. Due to poor governance, those in authority have failed to apprehend the corrupt.

International providers of Aid should ensure transparency, which means, on the terms and conditions, as well as from the governments that receive the funds (UNDP, 2003). This is evident to the extent that the World is off-track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, globally, and in most regions and countries (UNDP, 2003). This lack of progress raises essential questions about prior policies and strategies that have been adopted to achieve poverty reduction, as well as key international issues such as Aid, debt, and trade. Although the foreign Aid is expected to help poor countries to grow by following a durable development plan that can lead them to development, foreign Aid has a lot of disadvantages such as risk of corruption, economic and political pressure, more expensive commodities, just to name a few.

Several authors doubt the efficacy of the Aid. For example, Steven Radelet argues that “Foreign Aid played a supporting role in bolstering development progress. Too often, discussions about developing countries become polemic arguments about Aid, and some high-profile writer has claimed that Aid has failed.

While the critics make several legitimate points, and some aid has been ineffective, they underplay the successes. The bulk of the evidence shows that, on the whole, foreign assistance had a moderate positive impact on development progress. Its influence varies across countries and sectors. It has had a particularly strong effect on improving global health, fighting disease, mitigating the impacts of natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and helping to jump-start turnarounds from the war in countries like Mozambique and Liberia. Aid efforts have been strengthened by global campaigns such as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a United Nations initiative in which countries around the World agreed to specific targets for progress between 1990 and 2015 (many of which have been achieved). Aid is not the most critical driver of development, but it has played an important secondary role in development surge over the past two decades (Steven, 2015: pp. 18, 19).

The evidence is as startling as it is obvious. It will contrast countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered with others, which have become dependent on Aid and been trapped in a vicious circle of corruption, market distortion, and further poverty- and thus the “need” for more aid (Moyo, 2009: p. xix).

Sachs has consistently criticized the International Monetary Fund and its policies around the World, and blamed international bankers for what he claims is a pattern of ineffective investment strategies and argued that “After all, two billion people on the planet are scraping by, barely, on less than a dollar or two a day. The industrialization has passed them by. They have not been lifted out of poverty by what proponents of free markets like to call “the rising tide” (the tide that lifts some boats but not all of them).” (Munk, 2013: p. 3)

The foreign aid debate is so overwrought with hope and fake imagination, and unanswerable in so many ways. With Moyo, the subject of Aid, which gives a lot of insight and viewpoints on becomes realistic. It also showed that sometimes utterly unclear definitions of the word aid put people at odds when they’re much closer on ideas than they might have thought that Aid is relevant and help the poor. Basically, her point is, if you keep giving money to governments who feel no real compulsion or duty to serve the people, they will just keep taking the money and doing very little or nothing to set up situations that motivate the people to be more industrious and more independent.

The loans given out by the World Bank and IMF have also contributed to the Poverty in Haiti. Such loans come with very strict conditionality, which usually requires governments to adjust some of their economic decisions. For example, the requirement to reduce total government spending in Haiti has affected major social sectors such as health and infrastructure, and education, which are the main drivers of durable economic development.

Besides the lack of Education, Health Care, Infrastructure, just to name a few, corruption plays a predominant role in Haiti’s Poverty. Most governments are not credible. The extreme Poverty in Haiti has many reasons, and the causes of Poverty in Haiti cannot be narrowed down to one single factor. Corruption is viewed as a way that some governments or people with power make dishonest deals in order to fulfill their ambitions at the expense of the people. This is called “rent-seeking behavior,” and it is seen as a massive impediment to alleviating poverty. In fact, “rent-seeking” people affect developing countries by using their government to change something that they have no control over by influencing the government to act a certain way so that they can benefit from it. And that is a tangible case in Haiti. Haiti has a lot of corruption.

As a developing nation, Haiti has a lengthy history of external, internal, and human-made forces at work to bring about the circumstances this country suffers from today. Again due to poor governance, lack of education, and massive effect of corruption, there is an imbalance in society that leads Haiti to more poverty because the enforced policies end up with a handful of influential and powerful individuals oppressing the poor.

The behavior of the poor relates to corruption because it makes the government officials greedy for money; they have very low political transparency and weak civil participation. Again due to poor governance, lack of education, and massive force of corruption, there is an imbalance in society that leads to more poverty because they end up with a handful of influential and powerful individuals oppressing the poor. According to the World Development Report, the World Bank (2017) is increasingly working to understand and address the power asymmetries that enable the misuse of funds and other public goods. When allegations of fraud and corruption are substantiated, companies involved in misconduct are debarred from engaging in any new World Bank Group-financed activity. The poor miss out on gains from specialization and scale economies; most of the time, corrupt governments take whatever belongs to the population to create their assets.

d) Unemployment

Unemployment and absences of schooling beyond primary school level is a big gap in some developing countries, and Haiti is not an exception. Therefore, in the Haitian context, instead of debating over the poverty line, there is a band over which definite poverty shades into economic sufficiency. If there is no income, of course, the rate of poverty is growing faster than ever, because whenever you are unemployed due to a lack of jobs, it becomes one of the Causes of Poverty.

Employment provides the individual with the chance to overcome absolute poverty (because the chances are that one would be in a position to take control of immediate basic needs). Absolute poverty will be the concentration of this study: absolute poverty in its practical sense. Unemployment is considered as a factor that is leading to poverty, and what causes unemployment is a lack of job opportunities. Unemployment creates an imbalance in society and leads to more poverty because you end up with a few influential, corrupt and powerful individuals that instead of creating job opportunities for the people continue to oppress the poor who are the majority for the most part.

e) Political Instability

Since the 20th century, the political instability in Haiti has become endemic. The country is collapsed with lots of tragedies and wars that inundate the society and overtake Haiti which contributed for the most part at the poverty because the absence of political stability leads to violence in society such as street demonstrations, assassinations, crimes, kidnappings, corruption, robbery and much more events of that sort that further impair development. The level of political instability sometimes reaches a point when survival is at risk. Society becomes dysfunctional.

f) Inequality

According to the Marxist view, one of the significant causes of poverty is inequality or uneven distribution of wealth and income, a primary consequence of capitalism. From this point of view, any society with inequality is bound to have poverty. Poverty is more likely to occur in a society that accepts differences. In Haiti, the level of inequality is unthinkable. People do not care about other people anymore.

Marxism, as a fundamental materialist ideology, believes that workers should be the owners of the means of production. This is opposed to capitalism, where people purchase the means of production and pay others to operate these means. Marxists believe that the World would be better off without state and class in society but still disagree on the means and methods to achieve that goal. Marx also argued that because the upper class enriches itself by the exploitation of the working class, the economic interest of the two types is opposed and, therefore, incompatible. In short, Marxists would argue against the libertarian who views Market and government as separate domains, one of which inflicts and deforms the other, but rather as argumentation to unity where if there weren’t already a state, the capitalist would create one. Marxism and Liberalism are not related even slightly because they have different views of economic forces in societies. “Marxist theorists argue that the relative prosperity of the few is dependent on the destitution of the many” (Baylis et al., 2017: p. 131).

2) Why Haiti got stuck in poverty

The lack of access to credit services is a significant obstacle to the development and sustainability of microenterprise in Haiti. The provision of credit can help poor people to change their situation, and unfortunately, Haiti’s credit structure is killing people because the interest is way too high. Therefore it is not accessible to everybody. It is, however, essential to remember that for microcredit to work efficiently, complementary institutions are crucial, such as the sectors of education, agriculture, infrastructure, health care, etc.

In Haiti, there is now an increasing consensus that the effects of microfinance on self-employment are limited, with two common interpretations. The microeconomic approach suggests that the poor lack the skills, the resources, and the motivation to start their own business. The macroeconomic approach argues that local markets are already saturated. We use a political-economic method and first-hand data from rural in Haiti to explore the third explanation: the social regulations of markets. Drawing on a household survey, we find that the vast majority of households do not engage in entrepreneurial activities because Haiti’s microfinance loans are not affordable due to the high interest. We also find that women and lower class have a significantly lower chance of starting up a business. When they do so, their activities are smaller, less profitable, and concentrated in particular sectors. We then use qualitative insights related to the fabric and functioning of local economies to illustrate how different classes and gender-based social regulations shape local markets, determining who can produce or sell what, to whom, and to some extent at which price. It is, in fact, the most vulnerable situation where the households are the least likely to start up a sustainable income-generating activity in Haiti.

In their new book, Poor Economics, Abhijit Banerjee & Duflo try to dissect what has been learned, in decades of work on development economics, about the key problems and issues that affect the economic lives of the poor: health, education, savings, credit, labor markets, and more. Their view is that one needs to understand these issues in detail to be able to design effective policy and that a key reason why a lot of efforts to help the poor have failed is that they have been based on a misunderstanding of the problems that they were trying to get at, and a failure to learn from experience. This may seem somewhat reminiscent of a management book from the 1950s. But what is striking is how far away the process of policymaking usually is from this ideal. Banerjee & Duflo often see the World of the poor as a land of missed opportunities and wonder why they don’t invest in what would make their lives better. But the poor may well be more skeptical about supposed changes and the possibility of any radical change in their lives. They often behave as if they think that any change that is significant enough to be worth sacrificing for will simply take too long. This could explain why they focus on the here and now, on living their lives as pleasantly as possible and celebrating when the occasion demands it.

Duflo and Banerjee’s research has led them to identify wholly new aspects of the behavior of poor people, their needs, and the way that Aid or financial investment can affect their lives. In developing countries, micro-entrepreneurship is characterized by a high number of “penniless” entrepreneurs (Banerjee & Duflo, 2007), typically described as those forced into entrepreneurship but who remain in poverty. Mitigating this argument, it is shown here that among the poor, entrepreneurial households are on average, consistently. They argue that Developing countries are plagued with Market and institutional imperfections. A key symptom of this is the finding that the marginal product of capital is considerably higher than prevailing interest rates (Banerjee & Duflo, 2010).

a) Haiti’s corruption

The Western Hemisphere’s poorest country Haiti is plagued by widespread corruption, gang violence, drug trafficking, and organized crime. Also, one reason why Haiti got stuck in poverty is its exposure to natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding that happen due to massive deforestation. Haiti, as one of the most vulnerable countries in the World, continues to face environmental risks, lacks access to potable water and proper sanitation plus low rainfall that reinforce the food insecurity.

According to the World Bank (1990), and the United Nations (1995), poverty has various manifestations which include the lack of income and productive resources sufficient to ensure sustainable livelihood, hunger, and malnutrition, ill-health, limited or lack of access to education and other essential services, increased morbidity and mortality from illness, homelessness, inadequate, unsafe and degraded environment, social discrimination and exclusion. It is also characterized by a lack of participation in decision making in public, social, and cultural life (World Bank, 2001).

In their discussions of the factors that cause poverty, de Haan (2000) and Sindzingre (2000) noted that poverty could also be caused by the general exclusion of the people from social life. To them, exclusion reflects discrimination, which is a process that denies individuals from full participation in material exchange or interaction. The concept is tied to disqualification from the labor market, long-term unemployment, and the destruction of social links and integration that usually accompany work.

According to Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, “Nation fail today because their extractive economic institutions do not create the incentives needed for people to save, invest, and innovate. Extractive political institutions support these economic institutions by cementing the power of those who benefit from the extraction. Extractive economic and political institutions, though their details vary under different circumstances, are always at the root of this failure. In many cases, for example, as we will see in Argentina, Colombia, and Egypt, this failure takes the form of lack of sufficient economic activity, because the politicians are just too happy to extract resources or quash any type of independent economic activity that threatens themselves and the economic elites…The result is economic stagnation and as the recent history of …Haiti, civil wars, mass displacements, famines, and epidemics, making many countries poorer today than they were in the 1960s” (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2012: p. 372).

b) Haiti’s development progress

Inclusive institutions (both political and economic) in Haiti should foster economic growth. The governments should do this by encouraging investment, because of secure property rights, supporting the harnessing of market forces by efficiently allocating limited resources, providing the necessary capital to help finance new products/ideas/corporations and providing a level playing field (limited entry barriers) enabling creative individuals to create efficient businesses. This can only be done because inclusive institutions in Haiti can help to provide security and the necessary economic and political institutions that ensure stability and continuity such as secure property rights, certain comforts such as education, electricity, telephone and sewage systems, public health system and road networks. Of course, this leads to creative destruction as new ideas come into existence, further reinforcing economic prosperity for all. They fear them because they create winners and losers. So to maintain a status quo, it becomes crucial that old industries and institutions remain intact as opposed to transforming through creative destruction. Typically, that means both political and economic winners and losers. Without creative destruction, there is no incentive to develop, allowing those with political power to remain in force because it benefits them.

c) Haiti’s development challenges

Being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the Haitian economy is facing a lot of challenges from the damages of recent natural disasters and weak political leadership quotes. The international institutions, such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), critical economic institutions, the World Bank Group, and the World Trade Organization, have been present across countries around the World. These institutions classified Haiti as the poorest country in the World considering their development index, and the social and economic parts; however, contrary to popular belief, Haiti is a rich country that has many resources that are being wasted and, unfortunately, Haitian people cannot use these resources at their convenience. World Atlas argued that “A recent finding has shown that the Nation of Haiti might have some of the largest oil reserves in the World. The oil reserves are estimated that they could be larger than those of Venezuela. Nations that are found close to the Greater Antilles such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Haiti are estimated to be sitting on natural gas of about 159 billion cubic feet and oil of about 142 million barrels. It is also estimated that undiscovered reserves could hold as much as 941 million barrels of crude oil and natural gas thought to be about 1.2 trillion cubic feet. Areas thought to be rich in oil include the Central Plateau, the bay of Port-au-Prince, Thomond, and the Cul-de-Sac plain. Daniel Mathurin, a Haitian scientist, has compared Haiti’s oil reserves to a swimming pool compared to those of Venezuela which he likened to a glass of water” (Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com).

Haiti, a country gifted with immense natural and human resources as well as significant cultural, ecological, and economic diversity, remains underdeveloped. Some people believe that the country is doomed to perpetual poverty and economic slavery. Still, Haiti has immense potential even though Europeans have colonized and exploited their resources to build their homelands in Europe. However, Haiti is still has a lot of resources, which can lead to development.

Due to its geographical position, its history, and culture, Haiti is a privileged tourist destination. Now, tourism is an industry with an enormous capability of transforming national and international development. Tourism is the largest service industry that allows people to travel the World. The Haitian governments should take advantage of those resources to develop Haiti so everyone can have a better life. Unfortunately, Haiti is currently facing the most-stringent time ever, and at this alarming and painful moment, some of the Haitian populations are in the middle of heaps of rubbish, under tents, in the slums, or in the rain. Haiti’s current situation, precarious by lousy governance and chronic corruption, has been aggravated by the devastating earthquake in 2010 and the deadly hurricane Matthew in 2016 that ravaged much of the land. Due to these tragedies, Haitians tend to migrate to other places in the World to survive, particularly in the USA, Canada, and France. As a result, while migrating elsewhere, it would be pivotal for Haitians to go to these other countries and learn how they do things and how they managed to develop their countries, and go back to Haiti to do the same would surely help to build Haiti’s economy, especially since Haiti has all of the necessary resources.

Many development experts and macroeconomists tend to speak about Haiti and wish to see the eradication of poverty. A Bhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, in their book Poor Economics stated, “When the relationship between income today and income tomorrow is S-shaped, a family can plunge from being on a path to middle class to being permanently poor. This process is often reinforced by a psychological process. Loss of hope and the sense that there is no easy way out can make it that much harder to have the self-control needed to try to climb back up the hill” (Banerjee & Duflo, 2012: p. 140).

Haitians must set up a development plan and come up with some ideas to help develop Haiti. As Haitian, it truly pains to talk about this situation and how chaotic Haiti has been lately. Haitians must come together to contribute to Haiti’s development in agriculture, education, Health Care, the environment, and all other areas that can and must use improvement. Making a positive impact on the fabric and social economy of Haiti can only occur if Haitians come and act together.

According to Amartya Sen, development is about creating freedom for people and removing obstacles to greater Independence. Greater freedom enables people to choose their destiny. Barriers to freedom, and hence to development, include poverty, lack of economic opportunities, corruption, poor governance, lack of education, and lack of health. Thus, democracy and development cannot be separated, though economic growth can take place temporarily without democracy and freedom. This was cogently presented by Nobel Laureate in economics, Amartya Sen, when he equated development of liberty in a book under the title “Development as Freedom.” When a country needs development, it does whatever it takes to make it happen because economic growth improves the living standards and brings an increase in happiness. This system from the fact that economic development is not always concomitant with higher welfare of the median individual, as the gross national products (GNP) growth is not a sufficient indicator to measure the level of security and the quality of life of people.

Sen’s capability approach has broadened the definition and goals of development, and his perspective combines attributes (e.g., incomes) with an enlargement of opportunities available to a person. How the two are linked together is the probe of this study. The main point, however, is that development cannot only be reduced to growth in income or jobs. Instead, it should be viewed as a much broader process that improves the opportunities and quality of life for individuals. Many economists assume that economic growth will automatically enhance the quality of life, and that should be the case for Haiti as well.

The theoretical formulations on international development explored in Radelet’s Great Surge, where he focuses on four dimensions of development progress such as poverty, income; health and education; and democracy and governance, have contributed significantly to the currency of the concept of development in Haiti. With respect to each dimension, the post-Cold War progress has been dramatic. Worldwide extreme poverty began to fall in 1993 and by 2011 had been reduced to fewer than one billion people or an estimated 17 percent of the global population; while China and India account for much of the decline, progress has been evident in the vast majority of the developing countries that Radelet uses as the basis for his empirical analysis. Simultaneously, incomes have risen, and health and education indicators have improved. Significant progress was also achieved with respect to increased personal freedoms and more open political systems, with a concurrent reduction in the incidence of conflict. Among all the four critical dimensions of development that Radelet had explored in his Book Great Surge, Poverty is the best vital dimension to compare and contrast with the ideas championed by Jeffrey Sachs in elaborating the arguments and observations to be the most insightful and realize which ones are the least persuasive by providing in which area of development analysis they have the most crucial agreement or disagreement and why by addressing the implications of their positions and observations for understanding the process of development.

In fact, development is clearly an ideal, an objective towards which institutions and individuals claim to strive. This aim is seen as inherently good, implying a positive change, but its content is not necessarily specified. Sachs argues that several dependency theorists apply structural analyzes that oversimplify things regarding development. However, he also holds the view that Aid is to some degree exploitative because rational or defensible development is an integrated approach that emphasizes economic, social, and environmental objectives in shaping policy that is why Jeffrey Sachs believes that we must lift a billion-plus people out of poverty while simultaneously reducing our impact on the environment for the development process.

3) Human development Index, Haiti

Human Development Index (HDI)

It is a composite index that measures the average quality of life of a country’s population. Theoretically, the index ranges from 0 to 1. It takes into account three dimensions of human development. First, the possibility of having a long and healthy life based on life expectancy at birth. Then, the level of education, evaluated from the illiteracy rate and the attendance of the different levels of the school system. Finally, the standard of living, calculated from the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita taking into account the purchasing power parity (PPP) (Board O.1).

4) Tentative Policy Proposal

The best possible way to overcome Poverty in Haiti is to face the challenge of poverty. In fact, there are severe challenges that need to be overcome in order to achieve success for international development.

The global financial and economic crisis has brought to the public consciousness because of a lack of jobs, in order to face Poverty in Haiti, governments and International Institutions such as World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF) should create lots of jobs for the people because work is freedom.

Moreover, the lack of an employment program has had little impact on social Poverty in Haiti because traditional banking and financial mechanisms have not embraced the problem and not willing to lend any money to Haiti. The root of the poverty problem in Haiti runs deeper because regularization programs have a remedial nature.

Board O.1. Access to basic service, 2001-2012. Coverage, %.

Sources: ECVH 2001; ECVMAS 2012; Calculus. Quoted by World Bank in Haiti: Investing in people to Fight Poverty. Note: - = not available. WHO = World Health Organization. According to the international definition (WHO), access to improved drinking water is measured by the percentage of the population using improved sources of drinking water: domestic connection, standpipe, drilling, protected wells, protected sources, rain. b. The expanded definition includes the international description (WHO) plus treated (purchased) water. vs. Includes electricity, solar, and generators. d. The outdoor ease rate measures the proportion of people deprived of access to all sanitation (improved and unimproved). It corresponds to the price of open defecation used by the United Nations, and it is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the heart of discussions on the post-2015 agenda. It went from 63% to 33% nationally between 2000 and 2012, which is in line with progress in urban and rural areas. e. Improved sanitation is access to flush toilets or improved public or private latrines. Retrieved from: http://perspective.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/tend/HTI/fr/SP.POP.IDH.IN.html.

Furthermore, to complete the statement of a proposal to eradicate poverty and for the understanding of primary causal variables that best determine the conditions for prosperity, Steven Radelet brings the answer from “the Great Surge, the Ascent of the Developing World”, by saying in the winds of change, there “three major catalysts sparked the great surge. First, major geopolitical shifts created global conditions that were much more favorable for development. The big spark came with the end of the Cold War, the demise of Communism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Global power structures, strategic relationships, and powerful ideas about governance and economics all changed. A new consensus began to form around more market-based economic systems and at least in the majority of countries. Developing countries around the World introduced major economic and political reforms and began to build institutions more conducive to growth and social progress. The door opened to new possibilities. Second, globalization and new technologies provided the key opportunities through which people could begin to move toward prosperity. Deeper global connections through trade, financial flows, information and ideas, movement of people, and access to technologies provided the vehicles through which people in developing countries could begin to earn higher incomes, reduce poverty, improve health, and strengthen governance. Exports from developing countries are five times larger today than just twenty years ago. Third, the surge required the right skills and capabilities, and in particular it required leadership to begin to bring about institutional transformation. Developing countries began to achieve significant progress primarily because of the choices, decisions, and actions of the people in those countries themselves. Where new leaders at all levels of society stepped forward to forge change, developing countries began to build more effective institutions and make progress. Where old dictators stayed in place, or new tyrants stepped in to replace the old, political and economic systems remained rigged. Strong leadership, smart policy choices, and committed and courageous action at the village, local, and national levels made all the difference in the beginning to build the institutions needed to ignite and sustain progress” (Steven, 2015: pp. 16, 17).

In the Great Surge, Steven Radelet continues to suggest good plans of action in health and education that can lead Haiti to develop.

“It’s not just coincidence that both health and education have improved in the last several decades, and that the two have done so alongside the surge in economic growth…At the same time, increases in income can lead to advances in health and education. Over the last several decades, the improvements in health, education, and salary have all supported one another in a positive self-reinforced cycle, as they have in the West for nearly two centuries (Radelet, 2015: pp. 89-91).

To develop Haiti in the healthcare field, health care professionals and governments must know higher-impact measures to take with regards to educational benefits, which can be related to the statements from those participants on having less access to research centers. “In turn, better health helps improve educational outcomes. When children are healthy and have adequate nutrition, they are more likely both to attend school and to learn more while they are there. Both health and education build across generations: the healthier and more educated the parents, especially the mother, the healthier and better educated their children. That has certainly been the case across the United States and Western Europe: in three generations, we have shifted from high school being a rarity to a college education being the norm, with each generation becoming healthier along way…Improved health education contribute to higher income. Healthier individuals tend to work harder and longer, miss less work, spend less of their money on medicines … Public health programs can also create new economic opportunities” (Radelet, 2015: pp. 89-91).

The development of Haiti can be more actively relevant by pursuing industrial and agricultural development strategies and improve the investment climate by confronting those domestic and international policy issues that require national and international action and go against some constraints to implement some new disciplines which are going to give them access to the global Market and overcome poverty.

Haitian should pay enough attention to the union that brought the Fathers of the Fatherland to give us Independence against France, even though ignorantly President Boyer agreed to pay and paid for this Independence. Their fratricidal struggles, their divisions, their hypocrisy, and their prejudices are to their detriment. Everyone is locked in his little clan, the three powers of the state, as well as the other institutions, have good intentions, but some of them are getting rich to the people’s detriment, so the World can say that nothing is done concretely to develop the country, there is no more trust between them, they dare not venture anymore, they do not take their responsibilities, and the worries to put the country back on its feet is very little.

Also, yet, Haitians, an invitation is sent to you to bring your stone in the rebuilding of this beloved homeland Haiti, this native corner that everyone cherishes so much, under its beautiful tropical Sun. Because it is not possible that in this full 21st century: Haiti has no potable drinking water, no road infrastructure, no hospitals to provide the necessary care, no decentralization, everything is centered in Port-au-Prince. It’s a shame in the eyes of the World! We, Haitians, have missed many opportunities to reduce and even eliminate this unhealthy situation. Nevertheless, the hope is that if all Haitians become aware of beloved Haiti’s case, Haiti can be reborn from the ashes. Fernando De Soto in The Mystery of Capital, why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else argued that “over the past decade my researchers, assisted by knowledgeable local professionals, have done a survey … in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti in an effort to gauge the value of the possession of those people who have been locked out of the capitalized economy by discriminatory laws … Because there are no easy legal ways to change land tenure, farmers in state-owned cooperatives illegally subdivided the land into smaller, privately held parcels. In Port-Au-Prince, even quite expensive properties change hands without anybody bothering to inform the registry office, which is hopelessly backlogged” (De Soto, 2000: pp. 30, 31).

We, all Haitians that are scattered in foreign lands, primarily in the United States, Canada, and France, Latin America, etc., have certainly realized the connection that binds us despite our multiple activities or status. An excellent point is shouting out to all Haitians that live in the World that the United States of America that everyone sees growing and blooming has made a very high successful synthesis of the different groups that make up its population. By the strength of their republican and federalist institutions, the search for a minimal agreement has allowed the establishment of this democracy that has dismissed the civil war. They have good organizations, reputable institutions, large ports that facilitate entry, roads here and there, in a word infrastructure of all kinds. This is an example that we should follow, so we could once again make history as the first black Republic Independent.

Instead of migrating far away from Haiti, get together today to promote the harmonious development of Haiti; because it is time and more than necessary to take the road of development by crossing all the barriers of hypocrisy, threats, jealousy, pettiness, divisions, etc. Yes, it is time to work for the advancement of this country. It is time to say no to violence, division, corruption, ignorance, and yes to Union and Concord to rebuild Haiti so that it can become once again “The Pearl of the West Indies” like it was once. And above all, do not say: “will we be able to perform such a miracle in this country already finished and with what we are going to develop Haiti?” Know it well; the work of one person or a small group can transform the World. Do not be frightened by all the problems that arise in the country but go straight, and we will be victorious by using these resources to develop this country.

As everyone can see the rise of China, India, Singapore to name a few leaving the developing countries to be among the developed countries, if we, Haitians, can use our brain and our resources, we can as well search for Haiti’s development. In Haiti, we have many resources that can lead us to progress as well; we just have to use them in our convenience; Haiti is a rich country living by poor people. However, if we put ourselves together, we can rebuild and develop Haiti. Together we can develop Haiti; together, we can stop being a “shithole country,” as Donald Trump said. Haiti can become a well-Developed country where everyone can have the right way of living and where people can live as human beings and, most importantly, where everyone can have a job to support their family and has a minimum way to live well.

Every successful organization is always a building team; build our team business; it’s a reality of our life in Haiti, which is why we are asking everyone to do something today for Haiti that your future self will be so proud of doing so. Talk to more people, to make more money to develop Haiti. Today more than never, it’s an obligation for Haitians around the World to work together to develop Haiti and do our best not to depend on other people or other countries anymore, because if we keep waiting, waiting, waiting, nothing is going to happen in Haiti regarding development. It’s like an emergency today to take our destiny in our hands. We can do it and together we will do it. After doing so, we will feel great about supporting something worth it; we will feel amazed about supporting a good cause, which is the development of our country, Haiti.

Basically, the point is to keep giving Haiti more chances to grow its development and most importantly to make sure we have some governments that feel real compulsion or right to serve the people, by using our money to create many opportunities and to set up situations that motivate the people to be more industrious and more independent.

Making the right actions for the Haitian people by creating conditions conducive to the growth of their self-esteem through the establishment of social, political, and economic systems and institutions that promote human dignity and respect is definitely one of the perfect ways to overcome Poverty in Haiti. Those general goals that everyone agrees on are not fiction and can be realized by putting the right people at the right place, people with integrity.

It is essential one way or another to fight for the eradication of poverty in Haiti by promoting the development of new technologies, globalization, and courageous local leadership that can combine to improve the fate of tens of millions of people in Haiti. This will require wise leadership, which develops realistic policies, obtains internal and external consensus regarding them, and proves deft at countering the populist impulses that threaten the development progress of the past quarter-century. It is the same thing with every single dedicated person who opts for Aid to reach needy people in Haiti, which usually means it should not go to weak and corrupt governments that do not feel any compulsion to serve the people.

2. Conclusion

Overall, to eradicate or overcome Poverty in Haiti, we need stronger regulations to improve the transparency, fairness, and appropriateness of consumer and investor products and services. We also need a level playing field and higher standards for providers of consumer financial products and services, whether or not they are part of a bank by providing necessary tools to governments with the needs to manage financial crises. A developing country like Haiti can stop poverty by making the best choices and the right decisions when choosing new leaders at all levels of society because, now than ever, Haiti needs strong leadership with a smart policy that can direct them to progress or development.

The conclusion of this article is that provision of international development is a means, together with the support of other sectors in the country, to solve problems of financial markets in Haiti. However, there might be better ways to adapt the provisions of the international development to the Haitian context. The importance of this topic in international relations is to eradicate poverty in Haiti and in the World. The rules of international economic institutions should be rewritten to change the traditional approach of developing countries because it has been deficient. The developing countries need a different treatment exceptional that will allow them to extend their economy and enhance their capacity to trade, and also the rules that emerge from various negotiations should advance and represent their interests.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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