Haiti may have made significant strides since President René Préval was elected in 2006, but the changes he has pushed have been incremental, not fast enough for many down-and-out Haitians. In 2005, national food production only covered 41% of the country's dietary needs and more than half or 53% were filled through food that was imported while the remainder came from international assistance. The resulting food security issues were worsened by the majority of the population's limited access to food. Haitians spend 55% of their earnings on foodstuffs. A contrast to this is that food aid has dropped by 35% over the course of the past few years. Given this, a crisis (called "food riots") has arisen that is linked to the increase in the cost of foodstuffs and has also deepened pressure on families that had to choose between food supplies and access to other social services, particularly heath and child education.
This political turmoil brought down Prime Minister Jacques Édouard Alexis' government in April 2008 and the report of the funders' meeting that would have meant a united commitment and funding by the international community.
The Prime Minister's seat was vacant for a period of four months and parliament rejected two candidates for the position. Eventually, in August, right in the middle of the cyclones that devastated the country, Michèle Pierre Louis was appointed Prime Minister of Haiti. The Prime Minister only held office for a year, during which time she endeavoured to promote a more positive image of Haiti to the World in an attempt to attract foreign investment. Despite this initiative, her Government was severely criticized for its management of emergency funds in the wake of a series of devastating hurricanes that struck the country in 2008. In October 2009, she was relieved of her duties by Parliament and replaced by Jean Max Bellerive, who had been Plan Minister since 2006.
In fact, the population's increasingly fragile state is harming Haiti's path to political stabilization. If the basic needs of Haiti's citizens are not met, the progress the country has made in the last three years will be at great risk. Haitians are well-acquainted with scarcity:
Life expectancy at birth is estimated at 58.1% (2000-2005).
Maternal mortality has risen from 457 to 630 per 100,000 live births between 1990 and 2005.
Illiteracy remains high at 39% in 2003 in spite of observed progress between generations.
Only 49% of school age children attend school. These low levels of education translate into limited capacities. In 2001-2002, only 45% of the population aged 6 to 24 attended an educational institution or university.
Barely 25% of households have access to drinking water and very few have access to adequate sanitary installations.
Haiti has a high rate of extreme poverty: 56% of the population live on less than $1 a day, a total of 77% of the population live on less than $2 a day.
The income distribution is very unequal: the GINI index has reached 0.65, by far greater than Brazil's index (0.59), which is generally considered as the most inegalitarian country in Latin America.
The geography of poverty shows a significant difference between conditions in rural and urban areas. About 90% of the poor live outside the capital, with a strong concentration in rural areas (77%). The Départements of the North-East and North-West have the highest rates of extreme poverty.
UNICEF estimates that more than 170,000 children, mostly girls, do not attend school and engage in forced labor in a practice known as restavek. Many come to the capital from rural areas, where parents say they have no resources to provide food and schooling for some of their children.
The causes of poverty are diverse and complex. In addition to frequent political instability (which tends to affect mainly the urban population), a lack of an enabling environment (including. infrastructure) for businesses and farmers as well as insufficient provision of basic services are considered to be important factors. In addition, environmental hazards (droughts, floods) and degradation (erosion) are relevant. In terms of economic factors, the low productivity of the agricultural sector, the lack of opportunities for employment and the generation of income, the rising cost of living as well as the loss of capital among rural households appear to be most important.
The fact remains however, that the German NGO Transparency International ranked Haiti the 168th most corrupt country out of a list of 180 in its 2009 annual report on perceived corruption.Haiti has maintained a positive economic growth rate of approximately 2.0%, which is however, below the 3.7% recorded during the previous fiscal year.
On 23 May 2006, the Brasilia Conference on Haiti was the opportunity for the newly elected government to present its vision. The international community responded in concrete terms to this vision at the Conference on Haiti on 25 July 2006 in Port-au-Prince. To the government 's request of $545 million, the international community responded with promises of $750 million over the following fourteen months. "This would serve to improve essential services in poor rural and urban areas". The 25 July 2006 conference was followed by another held in Madrid, Spain on 30 November 2006, that was generally based on the Paris Declaration in order to introduce the concept of "co-responsibility" or "shared responsibility" between the government and the international community.
About 1 ½ years later, the Ministry of Planning and Foreign Commerce regretted being unable to give an account of funds announced and extended by the international community because 75% of these funds went through Haitian or international NGOs. No accounting is therefore available. Of course, disbursement can be accounted for but their concrete results are not explicit. This is also due to the fact that there was no start-up profile to use as a benchmark for the end profile.
A Framework for Long-Term Development
Overall, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) were developed in the late 1990s by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as instruments for poverty reduction and promoting growth by placing the final responsibility on governments. They are considered as a precondition for a country like Haiti to benefit from the international community's external debt release initiative. However, contrary to the former Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the 80s and 90s, they deal with specific realities and constraints of each country (Ref., NSGPR draft, October 2007).
The PRSP development process began under the presidency of Aristide. After work was interrupted in 2004 and it was replaced by the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF), the Interim PRSP (IPRSP) was reactivated by the transition government, modified as National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction (NSGPR) as a "window of opportunity" in September 2006 (with a G for growth) through a participatory and inclusive process that was expanded and deepened in 2007, then validated in September 2007 and finalized in November 2007. It was published on 3 December 2007 on the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation Web site. (http://www.mpce.gouv.ht).
The Three Pillars of a Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction
Pillar 1 focuses on growth areas: agriculture and rural development, tourism, infrastructure modernisation, science, technology and innovation.
Pillar 2 focuses on human development and significantly improving access to opportunities, including social services, that people might more effectively develop their capacities in terms of education and training, health care, water and water purification, highlighting activities for handicapped people (800,000 persons), poor children (2.7 million), youth (over 50% of the population), HIV/AIDS (103,669 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2005) and gender equity.
Pillar 3 is focused on democratic governance, modernization of the State, establishing the rule of law, particularly in terms of Justice and Security, and land-use planning.
Preserving macroeconomic and fiscal stability is considered basic elements for implementing the NSGPR.
Strategy Financing, Implementation and Monitoring
To be operational in 2007-2010, the NSGPR requires the sum of 154 billion gourdes (154,560,000,000 HTG) or $3.86 billion.
There are two levels in the implementation and monitoring of the NSGPR: one level, strategic, is under the sponsorship of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister's arbitration; the other is operational and is facilitated by the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation as well as by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. These levels integrate the principal development partners: the private sector, the territorial communities, and the cooperation sector, including international agencies and NGOs.
Overall, this implementation structure is controlled by the President of the Republic who, for this purpose, sponsors the National Commission on Investments that is responsible for researching the competitiveness of Haitian resources and the performance of public investments, including those related to large projects. Within this Commission, the Prime Minister's Office runs a Priorities Arbitration Board whose principal role is to provide guidance for public investments. Similarly, through their respective technical structures, the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation and the Ministry of Economy and Finance will coordinate the operationalization, execution and monitoring of agreed-upon activities in collaboration with sectoral ministries through Studies and Programs Units.
The following sub-sections describe and analyze the international community's commitments within the NSGPR presented by pillar and sectoral funds. They will continue to be updated as the international community's commitments are confirmed. Nonetheless, we can note that the national plan's total amount is $4 billion, including $2.5 billion funded by the public purse.
The following table illustrates loan and donation commitments of the eight largest funding countries as reflected in Haiti's national budget 2009-2010 :
Pillar 1: Growth Areas
The NSGPR is part of Haiti's global vision of development and includes two fundamental options: a) sustainable human development based on the three-fold growth of economics, social justice and environment and b) a totally renewed public management system. Pillar 1 includes 4 vectors of growth: agriculture and rural development, tourism, infrastructure modernization, science, technology and innovation.
The projects, programs and funds listed below are given as examples of what is already being done because the new funds will only become official at the conference of government and funders that will occur at the end of April 2008.
Pillar Two: Human Development
In Pillar 2 on human development, basic social services are given priority. It deals with education, promoting a modern health care system accessible to vulnerable groups, and encouraging the largest possible public/private partnership for drinking water and purification.
Pillar Three: Democratic Governance
Pillar 3 is dedicated to democratic governance with justice and security as priorities. Therefore, the first objective is to establish the rule of law, especially relating to justice and security. Setting up an equitable legal order, a functioning judicial system, and a general atmosphere of security are essential conditions for growth and for poverty reduction.