The strategy of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Haiti protect its fragile environment and preserve its precious resources is incorporated throughout its development portfolio. In order to create sustainable change, the Agency promotes activities that create environmentally friendly business and income-generating opportunities for Haitians across sectors and skills levels. Building up industries that profit from protecting the environment and augmenting the skills of the public sector to do the same are critical steps forward for a more sustainable Haiti.
Haiti is facing two energy challenges: a broken electricity sector and dependency on charcoal. Even before the 2010 earthquake, the power sector in Haiti was among the most challenged in the region. Only about one-quarter of the population had access to electricity. Of these consumers, half were connected to the electrical grid illegally. In place of a national grid, the national power utility, Electricité d’Haïti (EDH), operates one primary grid serving the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and a small number of isolated power grids for the rest of the country. Existing distribution systems are weak and require rehabilitation.
Even for those with access to electricity, reliability is inconsistent. Users in Port-au-Prince, for example, have an average of 10 hours of service per day. This lack of reliability requires many businesses and households to install costly, inefficient, and environmentally unfriendly diesel generators. Although residential tariffs in Haiti are relatively low compared with other fossil-fuel-dependent countries in the region, commercial and industrial tariffs are amongst the highest. This lack of access to affordable and reliable power hinders investment, constrains the development of productive businesses, and degrades living standards for residential customers.
Roughly 2.5 million Haitians live in extreme poverty (below $1.25 per day), predominantly in rural areas. The economy is largely informal and heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, which has languished in the face of growing rural population pressures, recurrent natural calamities, adverse climate change, and a lack of access to modern technology in the absence of a functional agricultural extension service. Haiti can also be a difficult place for businesses to thrive, ranking 180 of 189 on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. Despite these challenges, Haiti has had positive economic growth rates since 2011, averaging 3.9 percent through 2015.
Currently, the education sector in Haiti lacks the quality and access necessary for sustained social and economic development. Despite improvements in enrollment and the commitment of the Haitian government to strengthening public education, challenges in funding, teacher training and access remain prevalent. These issues put a generation of Haitian youth at risk of not receiving the knowledge and basic skills necessary to succeed in the labor force. To address education issues facing the country, the Government of Haiti has made free and universal education a priority. During the fall of 2011, the Government of Haiti’s Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP) began the rollout of an operational plan to enroll 1.5 million students in school by 2016, and to improve curricula, train teachers, and set standards for schools.
The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working to build a stable and economically viable Haiti. The focus of U.S. assistance is on long-term reconstruction and development: promoting economic growth, job creation, agricultural development, providing access to basic health care and education, and improving government effectiveness.
Last updated: May 16, 2016