Residents of Haiti have to content with catastrophic natural disasters, such as the destructive earthquake of 2010. Poverty and income inequality are deeply embedded in the structure of its society and the country is characterized by weak government and political instability. Violence and criminality are part of everyday life there, and many women are the victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Haiti is the least developed country in the western hemisphere; two thirds of the economically active population are unemployed. This has spurred mass emigration and the migration of young people from rural areas to the city, where urban slums have sprung up. Most of the land is in the hands of major landowners. Subsidized food imports have decimated domestic agriculture yet two thirds of the population are forced to eke out a living from this unproductive sector. Furthermore the country does not have an agricultural policy to increase production.
As a result of widespread deforestation, agricultural land has been depleted, is vulnerable to erosion and the likelihood of floods and landslides is greater. And due to a shortage of clean drinking water, malnutrition and poor sanitary and medical facilities many Haitians are very unhealthy.
Cordaid in Haïti
In the wake of the 2010 earthquake Cordaid acted immediately by providing food, shelter and medical care. Working together with 8,000 families, 6,208 earthquake- and cyclone-resistant homes were built and some 50,000 Haitians were given psycho-social care. Projects were executed by Cordaid Mensen in Nood.
The aid program was concluded in 2012 but Cordaid continued working towards giving the residents of Haiti a better future. Our presence there has strengthened the ties with both our partners and the local population.
In collaboration with local organizations and authorities Cordaid is working on disaster resilience and disaster prevention, increased food production and higher agricultural income for small-scale farmers. Cordaid is also striving to provide better accommodation for poor people in the cities. This is being achieved through initiatives such as providing new forms of financing, introducing sustainable agricultural technologies, stimulating entrepreneurship among small-scale farmers and urban slum dwellers and by making people at community level more resilient to the consequences of natural disasters.
Key elements of Cordaid’s efforts are strengthening the capacity of society and stimulating the participation of women and young people in decision-making processes. When all is said and done, the preconditions for attaining social balance in a sustainable relationship between the people and the government starts in the community itself.