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Haiti: Fast Facts from UNICEF

Haiti: Fast Facts from UNICEF

The Situation
Haiti is one of the poorest countries on earth – it ranks 148 out of 179 countries on UNDP’s Human Development Index, is struggling to recover from years of violence, insecurity and instability and has a long history of being struck by one natural disaster after another. 2008 was a particularly difficult year for Haiti, particularly Haitian children and women, as the country was hit hard by the combined effects of the food crisis and four successive hurricanes and tropical storms. This came on the back of the widespread devastation caused by Tropical Storm Noel in 2007.

Haiti’s income distribution is highly skewed, with only one in every 50 Haitians holding a steady, wage-earning job. Access to services is highly unequal: the poorer the child is, the less likely he or she is to have access to basic rights. Far too many Haitian children and women are engaged in a struggle for their right to basic necessities like adequate nutrition, clean water, education and protection from violence. Haiti also has the second-highest population density in the western hemisphere,. Four out of every ten children live in homes with mud floors or in severly overcrowded conditions, with more than five people living in each room. With an estimated 46% of the population currently under the age of 18, the struggle of Haitian children reverberates throughout society, and one that is bound to have serious consequences far into the future.

Haiti’s location and widespread deforestation (97% of all land is deforested) make it extremely vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. This leads to widespread floodig, erosion and mudslides when tropical storms hit. With so many people living at such close quarters – and with access to clean water and sanitary conditions sevrely compromised even in the best of times – vulnerability to the spread of life-threatening waterborne diseases can skyrocket when a natural disaster strikes, as can difficulties in devlivering much needed food, medical supplies and protection services. Children, as is too often the case, are most likely to suffer the consequences.


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