PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- At the end of a three-day trip, World Bank managing director and chief operating officer, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, commended the government of Haiti for the progress in the country’s recovery and called for broadening economic and social opportunities for all Haitians especially in rural areas.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati
"The Haiti I saw over the last days is very different from the country I saw during my visit in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. I am encouraged by the visible progress. More than 1.3 million people moved from camps to neighborhoods. Many now live in safer homes,” she said. “Extreme poverty has declined and access to some basic services has improved over the last twelve years. This is good news, but rural Haitians have yet to benefit from these gains.”
According to the 2012 household survey, which was developed by the National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion (ONPES) and with support from the World Bank, extreme poverty declined from 31 to 24 percent between 2000 and 2012. Most of these gains have been in urban areas with little progress in rural areas, where 4 out of 10 Haitians remain extremely poor.
Haitians have also benefitted from better access to some services. The biggest success has been in education, where participation rates of school-age children rose from 78 to 90 percent. However, the quality of education remains low. Only one-third of all children aged 14 are in the appropriate grade for their age.
Vulnerability and income inequality remains very high in Haiti. According to the data, 2.5 million Haitians living on two dollars a day are in danger of falling back into poverty in case of an economic shock or natural disaster.
During her visit, Indrawati who was accompanied by Jorge Familiar, the recently appointed World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, discussed with Haiti’s development cabinet about the country’s economic opportunities.
Indrawati travelled with the minister of economy and finance, Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie and minister of agriculture, Thomas Jacques, to the southern municipalities of Les Cayes to meet farmers and visit a World Bank supported project. The initiative, implemented by the ministry of agriculture, is part of the national agriculture strategy and aims to boost productivity by training farmers and helping them purchase seeds, fertilizers and pesticides through smart subsidies.
In nearby Simon, inhabitants explained how a water supply and sanitation project provides the nearly 60,000 people in this remote community with clean water and helps the population protect itself against cholera.
“Globally, rural poverty is often higher and more difficult to fight than in urban areas. But providing education, health services, and jobs to these communities is critical to promote equal access to a better life for all Haitians,” said Indrawati. “We support the Haitian government’s efforts to extend the successes they achieved in the cities to remote and underserved areas.”
Working with the National Poverty and Social Exclusion Observatory (ONPES) and Haitian Statistic and IT Institute (IHSI), the World Bank is conducting a full poverty assessment to be released later in the year. Detailed data and evidence from the survey will help identify priorities for public investments and improve service delivery to the poor.