Country 2021: Haïti

Protecting the environment to protect our rights

Haiti is a country affected by extreme poverty and vulnerability. Ranked 170 out of 189 on the Human Development Index, 70% of its population lives below the poverty line (40% in extreme poverty). The characteristics of the region (cyclones and earthquakes), combined with the acceleration of global warming, mean that natural disasters are becoming increasingly frequent and intense.
The successive climatic hazards of the last decade, which affect 96% of the population, have left traces that are still visible, both in terms of infrastructure and the survival conditions of the local population. The country’s advanced deforestation, particularly inland, greatly favours flooding and landslides, which are particularly deadly in areas located below the hills. These hazards affect Haiti, which has a very low resilience capacity, particularly due to the serious degradation of the environment and the political instability that reigns there (32 coups d’état in the last two centuries).

Since 2018, the country has been marked by violent protests and demonstrations against poor governance, inadequate basic services and chronic insecurity. Child protection mechanisms at state level are almost non-existent.

Vulnerable populations, especially children, are the first to be affected. In such a situation, many children, in part girls, are placed as domestic workers or are asked to leave school to earn an income for their families. On a daily basis, the local partner organisations of TdH Suisse remain mobilised alongside children and young people, and their communities. More than ever, respect for children’s rights and the prevention of all forms of violence are actual.

Haïti against Covid-19

Although Haiti remains largely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the population experienced several lockdowns in 2020 to limit the spread of the virus in a country where epidemics and health issues are central. Many families already living in precarious conditions found themselves without income. Schools, 80% of which are fee-paying, while 70% of the population lives below the poverty line, are places where children often receive their only meal of the day.
Faced with this situation, a large number of schoolchildren have had to drop out of school. Forced to work as street vendors or domestic workers, 3 million children across the country are still out of school and may never return.
In order to prevent children from dropping out of school, Terre des Hommes Suisse and its partner schools in Haiti are reinforcing the protection and education aspects. Children are trained to exercise their citizenship and develop the skills necessary to grow up in a hostile environment where living conditions are severely deteriorating.

In Haiti, Terre des Hommes Suisse is working to protect children against climatic risks.
In this context where climatic hazards are regular and cyclical (hurricane season from June to November), families do not have time to recover from the previous natural disaster when a new one is already occurring. In order to allow children to develop in a healthy and protective environment, La Dignité school in Jacmel on the south coast of the island and the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes in the Port-au-Prince region offer children quality schooling adapted to the context of their lives, enabling them to anticipate and know how to react to the arrival of a cyclone, for example. In their own way, they also learn to protect their environment in order to contribute to the fight against global warming and to create a liveable environment.

Terre des Hommes Suisse acts in favour of children's rights and supports schools in three areas:

1. Strengthen children's knowledge and skills to deal with climate risks

To ensure that children know how to react to the announcement of a climatic hazard and how to keep themselves safe, pupils, at school, have courses such as evacuation exercises, how to take shelter in the event of a fire in times of drought or during a mudslide due to heavy rains and floods, or in the event of the spread of water-borne diseases (80% of the population does not have access to drinking water).

2. Making children actors in addressing the challenges of environmental degradation

Each school has children’s clubs on children’s rights and on Risk and Disaster Management. In their clubs, children choose themes related to environmental protection, sustainable development and risk management. They run awareness-raising workshops for their schoolmates, neighbouring schools and their community. They also take concrete action by cleaning up the streets and water sources, cultivating vegetable gardens and developing agricultural techniques that they reproduce at home in order to limit food costs.

3. Training and supporting teachers for a contextualised and quality education

In collaboration with professionals of education and risk management, teachers have created textbooks on children’s rights and on themes related to the issues their students face in their daily lives. Recognised by the Ministry of Education, the aim is to train teachers in active teaching approaches and to integrate these themes into the school curriculum.

Haiti in figures

Capital: Port-au-Prince
Surface: 27,065 km²
Population: 11,592,279
Rural population: 44% (84% in 1960)
Official languages: Haitian Creole, French
Main religions: Christianity (55%), Protestantism (28%), Voodoo (90%)
Currency: Haitian gourde
Unemployment rate: 30% (in the formal sector – 70% of the economy is informal)
Poverty rate: 70% (extreme poverty: 40%)
Net primary school attendance rate: 80% (68% for children from disadvantaged backgrounds vs. 92% for the wealthiest families)
Literacy rate: 15 years and over = 60%
Child labour: 26% (nearly 1 million, the majority of whom are children in domestic service and street children)
Infant mortality: 48
HDI (2020): 170/189

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