Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living on less than US$2 per day. Political instability, food shortages, unemployment, tropical storms and hurricanes have kept most Haitians locked in a cycle of poverty for generations.
Access to housing is equally desperate. Before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti already faced a severe shortage of houses. The earthquake damaged 190,000 houses, and 105,000 more were destroyed, adding to the pre-existing backlog of 300,000 houses required to meet the growing shelter needs of the country.
Of the more than 2 million affected survivors, more than 1.5 million were left homeless. Today, land tenure remains the biggest roadblock to rebuilding in Haiti. Only clear and transparent land transfer processes can ensure that long-term housing reconstruction and redevelopment can take place.
Our work tackling poverty in Haiti encompasses new home construction, community rebuilding (including retrofits, training and capacity building) and land reform advocacy.
Facts & figures
Main country facts: Located on the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola. First postcolonial, black-led nation in the world.
Population: 9.99 million
Urbanisation: 53.4 %
Life expectancy: 63 years
Unemployment rate: 40.6 %
Population living below poverty line: 80 %
New home construction
Before the 2010 earthquake, we had constructed more than 2,000 permanent homes in the towns of Cabaret, Hinche and Flammands. As part of our long term earthquake recovery programme, we built an additional 300 more homes in the Santo community of Léogâne. In addition to that:
In 2011, 100 houses were built by volunteers as part of the 28th annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. 55 more houses were built by volunteers from Haven, an Irish NGO, that partnered with us. In 2012, our 29th Carter Work Project returned to build an additional 100 homes in Santo. We also constructed 1,500 upgradeable shelters that can be turned into permanent housing.
Post-earthquake recovery: rebuilding communities
In 2010, we launched our multi-year community action plan for Simon-Pelé, a densely populated urban neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, to help families improve their living conditions and gain access to critical services.
The plan includes the implementation of infrastructure programs, such as:
- Building and repairing roads
- Removing rubble
- Adding street lighting
- Installing water points for clean water and drainage
- Retrofitting more than 650 homes (a structural retrofit improves the original house by strengthening it against future natural disasters)
- Training 5,000 residents in vocational skills: basic and advanced construction, financial literacy, disaster-risk reduction, basic home maintenance, conflict management and gender equality
- Training for the local community councils
In 2014, we also launched the multi-year Canaan project to assist more than 30,000 families in need of decent, affordable, safe housing and sustainable neighbourhoods. Support will include:
- Technical assistance and training to define a communitywide development plan
- Identify and prioritise community needs;
- Help families meet international building standards as they build or upgrade their homes.
Our local team will also advocate for the formal recognition of this new settlement and for land tenure so that families will have a secure foundation on which to rebuild their lives.
Advocacy: reforming land rights
In 2011, we created the Haiti Property Law Working Group, which continues to develop and implement goals, objectives and priorities to help Haiti deal with long-standing land tenure issues — an essential step in helping people gain access to housing.
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