Haiti is in the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. It is a small tropical country west of the Dominican Republic and south of the island of Cuba.
In the eighteenth century, Haiti was the richest colony in the French Empire and was known as the “Pearl of the Antilles.”
Native Haitians were pre-Columbian Amerindians called Taíno/Arawak both meaning “the good people.” The Taíno/Arawak named their land “Ayiti,” meaning “Land of High Mountains”; that term evolved later into “Haiti.”
In 1804, Haiti became the first Black Republic in the World to declare independence. It is the first and only country in history whose independence is the result of a successful slave rebellion.
Over the centuries, however, Haiti has been overwhelmed by political violence, economic and social crises, along with a number of natural disasters. In 2008, four tropical storms severely hit Haiti back-to-back causing major damage to the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector. Then on January 12th, 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 – magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing an estimated 220,000–316,000 people, and, injuring around 300,000. Hundreds of houses were badly damaged and hundreds were destroyed by the earthquake. 4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed and 1.5m people became homeless.
ISSUES FACING CHILDREN IN HAITI
- 59% of the population lives on less than US $2 per day. (World Bank 2012)
- 24.7% lives in extreme poverty on less than US $1.25 per day. (UNDP 2013)
- Poverty is mainly rural, at 75.2%, vs. 40.8% in urban areas. (MDG rpt 2013)
- 50 % of children do not attend school; that’s more than 200,000 children out of school. (World Bank 2013)
- Approximately 30% of children attending primary school will not make it to third grade; 60% will abandon school before sixth grade. (UNICEF 2008)
- Only 29 % of Haitians 25 and older attended secondary school. (USAID 2015)
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
- Life expectancy is 63 years. (World Bank 2013)
- 30% of the population is considered food insecure. (World Food Programme 2015)
- The infant mortality rate is 55 per 1,000 births. (UNICEF 2015)
- 59 per 1,000 born in Haiti die before reaching their first birthday. (Ministry of Health 2012)
- The under 0-five mortality rate is 88 per 1,000 live births. (Ministry of Health 2012)
- “An estimated 1 in 285 births will result in a woman’s death, a ratio about 16 times higher than in the United States.” (Partners in Health 2014)
- It is estimated that about 5.6 % of people aged 15-49 years old in Haiti are living with HIV/AIDS. This includes about 19,000 children. Antiretroviral drugs are extremely scarce. (UNICEF 2010)
- Some 60 % of people, primarily in rural areas, lack access to basic health care services. (UNICEF 2010)