Haiti is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, with more than 90 percent of the population at risk. The southern peninsula is still rebuilding after Hurricane Mathew, a natural disaster that caused damages equivalent to 32 percent of GDP.
Nevertheless, the country has taken significant steps to prepare for these inevitable natural disasters. While Hurricanes Irma and Maria skirted the island of Hispaniola, initial assessments show that the Haitian authorities were better prepared and had incorporated lessons learned from the experience with Hurricane Matthew.
Haiti remains the poorest country of the Americas: based on the most recent household survey (2012), over 6 million of Haiti’s population of 10.4 million (or 59 percent) live below the national poverty line of US$2.41 per day, and more than 2.5 million (24 percent) fall below the national extreme poverty line (US$1.23 per day). Haiti is also one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 0.61 in 2012.
The economic growth rate should show a modest increase from 1.2 percent in 2016-2017 to 1.6 percent in 2017-2018, owing primarily to the performance of the agricultural sector. However, the gourde has continued to depreciate against the US dollar and inflation remains high.
Faced with a drop in concessional financing from Venezuela and the decline of donor funding, the Government agreed in 2017, within the framework of the IMF program for the promotion of effective management, to eliminate fuel subsidies as a strategy to preserve fiscal sustainability and enhance the provision of public services. Nevertheless, the Government’s attempt on July 6, 2018 to eliminate the subsidies led to violent demonstrations that caused the authorities to put an end to the reform. The continued use of subsidies will have an impact on the country’s fiscal balance and may result in a drop in social expenditure while limiting the Government’s capacity to provide public goods and services.
Last Updated: Sep 21, 2018