Children outside their school in Haiti

The impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti suffers from ongoing violence and massive inequality, as well as the legacy of natural disaster.

Years of violence and political instability – as well as environmental degradation – have left Haiti the poorest nation in the Americas. Half of its population lives on less than US$1 per day, and three quarters earns less than US$2 per day (1).

Inequality is stark, with one per cent of the population owning almost half of the country’s wealth (2). Nearly 90 per cent of people in rural areas live below the poverty level (3), with scarce access to even basic services – including education. Around one in two Haitians are unable to read or write (4).

Haiti is especially prone to natural disasters, which add to the poverty burden. Lying in an earthquake-prone region, the island nation also struggles to cope with frequent tropical storms. Severely deforested, the country is particularly prone to flooding.

In 2010, Haiti suffered its worst earthquake in 200 years. Tens of thousands died and the country’s infrastructure was wreaked when the magnitude 7.0 tremour struck the country. Some 1.5 million people were displaced, with tens of thousands still living in the camps to this day (5).

Cholera broke out just ten months later, claiming over 4,600 lives in less than five months. The outbreak is thought to be the worst epidemic in recent history. Incidents of the water-borne disease have decreased but 30 people on average are infected every day.


1) World Food Programme, 2014
2) World Bank, 2014
3) World Food Programme, 2014
4) UNICEF, 2012
5) World Bank, 2014

Updated: December 2014