West Indies

Haiti is an independent country in the West Indies, west of the Dominican Republic, whom it shares the island of Hispaniola with. (Dominican Republic owns two thirds of the island, and Haiti owns the western third). The country is approximately 28,000 square kilometers and has a population of nearly 9 million people, which grows at an annual rate of 2.5%. Port-au-Prince is the country’s capital and largest city. Haiti is defined by rough and mountainous terrain, and so has been named “land of mountains”.It also has small coastal plains and river valleys. Haiti has a tropical climate, but lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is prone to severe storms from June to October, with occasional flooding, earthquakes and periodic droughts. French and Creole are the official language of Haiti, as it was a French colony for a period of time. Today, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a GDP of only $1,900, with two thirds of the people unemployed and three quarters living in poverty. Haiti’s international debt is more than $1 billion.(www.cia.gov)Haiti has numerous development indicators to show how well the country is developing. The main ones are explained below, each with potential solutions to further develop the country and improve standards of living.SOURCES OF FINANCECurrency: Gourde( HTG)Exchange Rate: $1 to 37.138 Haitian GourdePotential sources of income: International Monetary Fund, World Bank ,Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Inter-American Development Bank, Aid and Taxation.International Monetary Funds (IMF)Set up in 1944 at the Bretton Wood conference, New Hampshire, to help put in place an economic structure that would help the problems experienced by many countries in the 1930s. It also aims to stabilise the international monetary system and help when monetary flow from trade causes problems. It provides help and advice as well as funds to countries experiencing balance of payments problem. The IMF gets its funds from its 184 member states called “quotas”. Quota determined by the economic size of the member state.World BankAn agency of the United Nation. It has a group of five organisations which focuses on providing funds for projects aimed at alleviating poverty, inequality and promoting development and has 184 member states.International Bank for reconstruction and development(IBRD): Provides loans and advice to poor countries to assist development.The international development association (IDA): Offering interest free credits and grants to countries who are not able to borrow through normal market channels.International finance corporation (IFC): Providing finance through the private sector for development.The multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA): providing investor with protection against risk to promote investment in developing countries.Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)They have policies to attract investments. Such investments are often associated with multinational corporations. The right conditions have to be in place e.g. security, peace, law and legislation, freedom of market, local labour supply , legal issue: protection for the investors property and rights, tax regime etc. These are some of the conditions that investors looking to invest in foreign countries would like to be in place to protect their investment. This mode of investment has been criticised as being a mean by which multinational companies can exploit poorer countries.Inter-American Development BankThe Inter-American Development Bank, the oldest and largest regional bank in the world, is the main source of multilateral financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its loans and grants help finance development projects and support strategies to reduce poverty, expand growth, increase trade and investment, promote regional integration, and foster private sector development and modernization of the State.AidThis can be bilateral, from one country to another or multilateral, aid distributed by an agency who co-ordinate donations. It helps to kick start economic development, used to develop vital infrastructure needed to encourage other investments. Some draw backs of receiving aids could be, crowding out domestic investments, creates a dependency culture, distorts the working of the market, not always used for appropriate purposes and can be linked to various strings attached to receiving aid that may not be in the recipients countries interest. Foreign aid makes up approximately 30% – 40% of the national governments budget of Haiti. In fiscal year 2004-2006, the U.S gave more than $600million in Aid. The united states is Haiti’s largest bilateral assistant donor .TAXATIONTaxation is the only practical means of raising the revenue to finance government spending on the goods and services that most of us demand. This should raise essential revenue without excessive government borrowing and should do so without discouraging economic activity. It is difficult to create an efficient tax administration without a well-educated and well-trained staff, when money is lacking to pay good wages to tax officials and to computerize the operation (or even to provide efficient telephone and mail services), and when taxpayers have limited ability to keep accounts. As a result, governments often take the path of least resistance, developing tax systems that allow them to exploit whatever options are available rather than establishing rational, modern, and efficient tax systems. The informal structure of the economy in many developing countries and because of financial limitations, statistical and tax offices have difficulty in generating reliable statistics. Due to the political climate, no current taxation system is in place in HaitiPublic AdministrationHaiti is the least developed country in America with a strong history of re-occurring violence and is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.Haiti has depended extensively, since the mid-1970s, on foreign development aid for budget support. The United States has been the largest donor, but it has frequently interrupted the flow of aid because of alleged human rights abuses, corruption, and election fraud.The prospects for development improved for a while when Jean-Claude Duvalier left in 1986. It was then that the economy began to grow February 1986 departure; some important economic reforms took place, and the economy began to grow but this was later stalled. The economy could have continued to grow but political and social problems prevented this.In June 1997 the Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned leaving a 10 month gap where the Parliament was reluctant to accept any recommendations for a new prime minister put forward. This meant a long period of time passed when there was no legislative government. In January 1999 a new prime minister was appointed, Jacques-Edouard Alexis who decided to hold elections to reconstruct Parliament.In 2005 the Haitian National Police (HNP) were accused of unlawfully abusing/murdering citizens acting outside their authority. However lack of interest from the Haitian government meant that investigations were unsuccessful in trying to find who was at fault. This was further made difficult by people acting as HNP so it was hard to determine if it was actually a member of the HNP.Due to the lack of courses within the police department when citizens were arrested for crimes they were later released due to the countries corrupt and inefficient judicial system. For example a HNP officer killed a man who was arguing with him at the police station. This officer was arrested but no other information was available and so he was released.Despite recent developments within the country corruption is still occurring within Haiti.With reports in lack of help for societal and violence against women, internal trafficking of children, child abuse, child labour, gang murders, torture, kidnapping and severe corruption within the government itself, Haiti still remains dependent from the help from other countries.Health SystemHaiti’s health system includes the public sector, the semi-public sector, and the private sector.The public sector was seriously affected by the country’s political crisis, which led all foreign aid to be channeled through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The Ministry of Health is structured into central, departmental, and community levels. Through its central directorates and units, it sets standards. Planning, monitoring, and supervision are the responsibility of the heads of the nine sanitary departments. One-third of the country’s 663 health institutions belong to the public sector.The semi-public or mixed sector encompasses nonprofit institutions that are supported mainly by NGOs. Staff is paid in whole or in part by the public sector, but is managed by the private sector.In 1994 there were 49 hospitals and 61 other inpatient facilities, with an estimated 90 beds per 100,000 population. Of the country’s total health care facilities, 32% are operated by NGOs. The private, profit-making sector is comprised of physicians, dentists, and other private practice specialists who mostly work in Port-au-Prince and in private health care facilities. Public and private establishments function completely independent of one another with very little networking. Differences in access to adequate health care are further magnified by the uneven geographical distribution of centers and hospital beds.Social security benefits are limited to formally employed people. In 1995, the Insurance Agency for Occupational Accidents, Illness, and Maternity (OFATMA), an autonomous body under the umbrella of the Ministry of Social Affairs, provided insurance coverage to 2,500 public and private firms. In 1996 it covered 60,000 workers, an increase from 40,000 covered in 1994.The estimated per capita expenditure in health for 1995 was G15.7 (US$ 2.0); it represented a decrease compared with that of 1990, which was G24.8 (US$ 3.4). Total per capita expenditure on health reached US$ 9, representing 3.5% of GDP in 1995. According to these estimates, in 1996 the government budget represented about 16% of the total expenditure; external donor agencies, which are mostly channeled through the Ministry of Health and NGOs, 28%; NGOs, 20%; and private expenditures, 36% in 1996. (source: http://www.paho.org)School Health. The Ministries of Public Health and of Education, with external financial and technical assistance, are working together to develop school health policies appropriate for Haiti, including early detection of hearing and vision problems; promotion of oral health and detection of dental caries; nutritional surveillance; detection of iron deficiency and diseases caused by intestinal parasites; early detection of poor posture; health education and promotion, including sex education; and the prevention of STDs.Workers’ Health. Haiti has no national health program for workers, but workers who receive coverage from the Agency for Occupational Accidents, Illness, and Maternity were given annual examinations to detect tuberculosis and syphilis. The Agency has a 30-bed hospital in Port-au-Prince that granted appointments to an average of 30 outpatients a day.The main health problems of children are prematurity, pneumonia, malnutrition, meningitis, typhoid, and gastroenteritis. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis, anemia, skin diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases. For people aged 10-19 HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death! For adult AIDS it is also leading cause of death, intestinal infections come second and maternal causes rank third.Most of those illnesses are not rightly treated and making life expectancy so low – 56 years (women), 52 years (men). (source: http://www.paho.org) .In Haiti there is need for a program to make people aware of modern contraception methods and how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. This can be accomplished by increasing availability and access to youth-friendly reproductive health services and introducing educational materials to improve knowledge of the youth and adults. Haiti can also establish HIV/AIDS speciality care centres which will provide counselling and testing, prevention methods and other services.Also there must be easier access to see a doctor, maybe locate them at schools and work places.LabourHaiti’s Labour Code (Article 335) states that the minimum employment age in all sectors is 15 years, except in the case of children working in domestic service. The Labour Code (Article 341) sets the minimum employment age for domestic work at 12 years of age. All working children between the ages of 15 and 18 must be registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs. The Labour Code prohibits minors from working under dangerous conditions and prohibits children under the age of 18 from working at night in industrial enterprises. Penalties for child labour violations are 1,000 to 3,000 gourdes (US$42 to US$126). The Labour Code prohibits forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory labour by minors. Laws do not prohibit trafficking in persons. The Ministry of Social Affairs’ Institute of Welfare and Research (IBESR) has the authority and the mandate to protect children. The IBESR has approximately 12 social service workers working throughout the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan area.According to a report published by the US government more than more than 300.000 children a year are being taken out from Haiti and forced to work as beggars, farmers and construction workers by adults who keep their wages. Each year, more than half end up in Dominican Republic. The parents often help their children to work outside the country seeing in this a way of obtaining some additional income. The study shows that the problem is mostly in northern Haiti. While about half of the children go to the Dominican Republic for three of four months and then return in Haiti to attend school, many of them end up staying there as a low-wage farm workers.In terms of housing and food, they live in very poor condition and often they are physically and verbally abused, but because of their illegal status and their age, they fear going to the authorities and risk to be send back home.UNICEF official, Alec Fyfe, said that “while labourers have been migrating from Haiti for decades, the worrying new twist is the trafficking in children. The families see the middlemen doing the smuggling almost as benefactors due to the extreme poverty in Haiti”.UNICEF officials said that parents pay the smugglers $60 to $80 per child to take their children to the Dominican Republic. The smugglers in turn pay Dominican border guards $1 to $3 per child to sneak them across the border.The U.N. states that many children are physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. And few are given the chance to attend school. Beyond Borders, a non-political volunteer organization which advances the rights of children to be free from abuse and exploitation without regard to race, religion, gender or sexual orientation is supporting a growing movement in Haiti to bring an end to child servitude and exploitation.Billboards like this are a small part of campaign to end child servitude. The billboard says, “Give me your hand. Give me tomorrow. Down with Child Servitude.” The campaign Down with Child Servitude initiated by Beyond Borders organisation that is established in Haiti has developed an extensive public awareness campaign to change attitudes about the practice of exploiting children in domestic servitude, appealing to guardians of these children and government officials to use their power to protect them.In 1998, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that 24 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Haiti were working. Child labour in Haiti is generally non-existent in the industrial and commercial agriculture sectors because of high adult unemployment.A 1997 UNICEF study estimated that there were some 250,000 to 300,000 child domestic workers in Haiti, 80 percent of whom were girls under the age of 14. In Haiti, child domestic workers are commonly referred to as restaveks, a Creole word meaning “to stay with.” They are among the most vulnerable and exploited of all children in Haiti. Isolated from family and peers, restavek children are largely unprotected from abuse. According to UNICEF, most restaveks reach the age of 15 without ever having been to school. Most restaveks work 10 to 14 hours per day and do not receive any compensation for their work. They are often psychologically and physically punished by the master or mistress of the house and sometimes even by their children. Girl restaveks are sometimes sexually abused by the males in the employing families. If a girl becomes pregnant, she will generally be released into the streets. Many such girls become street children or prostitutes.In the neighbouring Dominican Republic, between 10,000 to 14,000 Haitian workers are contracted annually to work in the sugarcane industry where Haitian children are found working, particularly in the Barahona province. What needs to be done here is firstly to make sure that the education is accessible for every child in Haiti so they won’t have to go abroad and work for a few months and save money so they can go to school when they return.EducationIn Haiti, the traditional education system, based on the French system, begins with six years of primary education followed by seven years of secondary education. Two streams end either in the Baccalaureat I after three years or the Baccalaureat II after four years. In the reform system, the primary cycle lasts for nine years followed by three years of secondary education. Pupils opt for classical, technical, or a professional stream.Higher education is provided by universities and other public and private institutions and is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.Primary schooling supposed to be free and compulsory, but it is still big expense for families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks and other inputs (all costs are as much as 15% of family income per child). Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for about 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Haitians realise how important education is, but most of them just cannot afford send their children to secondary schools. 60% of rural households suffer from chronic food insecurity, and food comes before education. Another reason why numbers of students decreased is violence in the country. A nationwide assessment conducted in March 2004 showed that the political conflict in Haiti has had a severe impact on Haiti’s children, particularly the most vulnerable. During the period surrounding Aristide’s resignation, students in eight of 19 major cities received death threats aimed at preventing them from attending school or participating in public events. A number of schools and hospitals were the targets of violence and looting, and many schools were closed for months.In the field of education, girls and boys have equal opportunities to attend primary school. At the primary school level the gross number of years of schooling for girls is 0.5-2.1 years lower than for boys. Women also enter the job market at an early age; roughly 10% of young girls aged 5-9 years and 33% of girls aged 10-14 may be considered economically active.With an adult illiteracy rate of 52% (48% of males are illiterate and 52.2% of females are illiterate), education remains a key obstacle to economic and social advancement in Haiti (source: http://www.buildingwithbooks.org)To help improve attendance at schools many organisations help to support and develop education system. The World Food Programme, USAID, World Bank, Save The Children and many more trying to look after pupils health and provide 1000caloreis meals. There is also UK charity Plan International, which helps provide furniture to Haitians schools and also UNICEF, which help with quality training teachers and improve quality of Haiti’s school infrastructure, specifically through the renovation of school buildings and equipment.To improve children’s attendance at school, their safety is most important point. Making buildings more secure and also provide school buses taking children to school and home after classes.Also, to increase children’s attendance Haiti can introduce finance incentive programmes, which have been very successful in Jamaica, such as rewarding classes for outstanding attendance, awarding individual certificates.Children, who’s families are struggling to afford food, should have meals provided, as a another reason why attend school.Also important is the quality of teaching, why not make it more attractive doing a teaching placement year in Haiti for French students? It would be a great opportunity for students to develop their skills and make their work experience more interesting for future employers.

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