Education in haiti

In Latin America, around three million children don’t go to school. In Haiti, parents spend on average $130 every year to send their child to school and more than 200,000 children remain out of school. However, enrollment rates have been going up in recent years. A new World Bank study looks at the impact a tuition waiver program had in the country. There are four important facts everyone should know about education in Haiti:

1. Almost all schools in Haiti are privately run In the early 2000s, about 90% of schools were private. These are very diverse and are run by religious organizations, non-governmental organizations, or for-profit institutions. "If I had found the same kind of opportunity at a public school, I would have worked there," says Innocent Samuel, a third grade teacher. There are limited jobs in public schools and wages tend to be lower in non-public schools.

2. Most schools ask for tuition fees, a barrier for many Being privately owned, these schools usually require tuition fees. Along with the cost of transport, books, and the mandatory uniform, it is very hard for Haitians to send their children to school. La Ruche Enchantée, located in a poor Port-au-Prince neighborhood, tuition fees vary from $127. for the first grade to $180. for the sixth grade. "Before the tuition program, parents found it difficult to pay," explains Joelle Dalphe, who founded the school with her sister in 1994, "They would never pay the full tuition," Due to this, the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank provided financial and technical support for a tuition waiver program, which was launched in 2007. Schools who met program conditions, like an official permit of the government, were given $90. per student annually. This amount is above the estimated tuition fee so that other school materials could also be provided. The program covers children starting primary school between six and eight-years -old.

Haiti’s Troubled Healthcare System

June 27, 2017; Miami Herald

If you visit a hospital in Haiti, you see first the people waiting outside. Many of those, having traveled for miles on foot, had slept there the night before—maybe two nights before—waiting for care. This might lead you to believe that there aren’t enough hospitals in Haiti, but a new study by the World Bank suggests the problem isn’t a lack of hospitals, but instead a dearth of primary care as well as anything close to the needed public investment in health care.

According to the report, the annual per capita public health spending in Haiti is $13, compared with $781 in nearby Cuba and $180 in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor on the island of Hispaniola. Public investment in health care has plummeted from 16.6 percent of the total Haitian government budget in 2004—under the administration of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown that year—to 4.4 percent in the current budget.

The World Bank is calling for not just an increase in dollars, but a reallocation. It would like to see more emphasis on primary clinics and preventative care and proportionally less money spent on hospitals.

"We have a lot of hospitals that do not necessarily provide care at the level they are supposed to," the study’s lead author Eleonora Cavagnero said in an interview with the Miami Herald. A health economist for Haiti at the World Bank, Cavagnero is also calling for a moratorium on new hospital construction. "A lot of the things that Haitians suffer from could be treated at the primary health care levels in a more cost-effective way."

The World Bank’s recommendations bump up not just against the overwhelming poverty (where more than half of people live on less than $2 a day) and political instability in Haiti, but also a donor culture that prefers photogenic brick-and-mortar projects like new hospitals and schools. Donors unfortunately tend to lose enthusiasm when it comes to staffing and maintaining the programs meant to go in the shiny new buildings.

This donor culture is certainly not unique to Haiti but is especially pervasive in a land nicknamed the "Republic of NGOs." (And it’s never said, "Lucky Haiti! It’s a republic of NGOs!" Look, for example, at NPQ’s previous coverage of the American Red Cross in Haiti.)

Haiti’s poverty and political instability leave it especially vulnerable to disasters both manmade and natural. The World Bank study found that hospitals are often built in reaction to disasters, like Hurricane Matthew last fall and the massive earthquake in January 2010, "without planning for how running costs will be borne after the initial emergency has passed."

And, sometimes, the initial emergency doesn’t really pass. In October 2010, negligent waste disposal on the part of United Nations peacekeeping troops introduced the deadly cholera bacterium into Haiti’s main river system. From thence, it raced through the population, who had no immunity because cholera was new to the country. At last count, nearly 10,000 people have died and almost 800,000 have been sickened in the ongoing epidemic according to official statistics. (The CDC observes that the real numbers are likely much higher.)

The UN has made a (long-delayed) apology and promises of restitution, but mostly it has left the Haitian people with bills and long-term side effects. (This in a country where, according to the World Bank study, "almost one quarter of households reported not consulting a provider when sick...among those, 49 percent could not afford care.")

The healthcare crisis in Haiti is bound to get worse, said Dr. Ronald LaRoche, a primary care advocate who operates private hospitals in Haiti, in an interview with the Miami Herald. He cited a conflux of "the shrinking of international assistance, the lack of income coming from the government side, the inflation rate, the increase of the population and the emergence of new hazards like cholera and Zika, and the reappearance of old ones like tuberculosis."

LaRoche told the Miami Herald he believes the answer for Haiti is a system of universal coverage where people who can afford to pay have insurance and those who can’t are covered by the government or private donors.—Nancy Young

Haiti - Agriculture

Food insecurity in 2017 growing concern

Concern over continued food insecurity into 2017 is growing as farming remains undermined by lack of seeds and debris clearance.

Humanitarian partners are increasingly concerned about the nutritional situation in the most affected areas. The Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) conducted by WFP and the national Centre for Food Security (CNSA) in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane had revealed that some 806,000 people were in situation of severe food insecurity, which increases the risk of malnutrition among vulnerable groups such as children under five (12.5% of the population) as well as pregnant and lactating women (2.5% of the population).

UNICEF, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) and their partners conducted active screenings in November in three of the most affected communes in Grand’Anse (Les Irois, Anse d’Hainault and Dame Marie) and six communes in the Sud region. Findings point to a worsening nutritional situation with malnutrition levels two to four times higher than levels in normal screenings.

Moreover, in the regions most affected by Hurricane Matthew, which account for 60% of the national crop production, crop destruction ranged from 75 to 100%. The winter planting season is closing in the next few days and only a fraction of farmers have received new seeds (18%), while debris clearance is ongoing, also hampering resumption of agriculture. Fishing has also been impacted by the destruction of assets. Food stocks are exhausted. The region is therefore at risk of continued high levels of food insecurity, with a peak by mid-2017 if the yield of the next planting season in March is not optimal. This situation points to the importance of an early shift towards recovery. To date, some 150,000 people have received income generating support in order to kick start recovery. The revision of the EFSA will be conducted by the partners between 15 and 22 December.

However, so far, the shortfall for the WFP Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation amounts to 44% of requirements. USD 21 million is required to provide full food assistance rations to 800,000 beneficiaries for three months. Due to the limited funding, the ration distributed has been reduced to 83% of a full ration. Of the USD 9 million required by FAO under the Flash Appeal, USD 5.6 million is still missing to provide immediate crop, livestock and fisheries support to 300,000 hurricane-affected people.

Addressing Haiti’s Energy Challenges

A Key Priority in the Years to Come

The student who studies in the evening and the hospital that must operate around the clock have one thing in common: they need electricity. More than two years after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti's energy supply remains a significant challenge.

"EDH van kouran, EDH pa fe kado kouran" (EDH sells electricity, EDH does not give away electricity) can be read on the shirts of participants at an awareness-raising activity in Cayes on the need to pay electricity bills. Haiti’s electricity company [L’Electricité d’Haïti EDH], the largest State-run enterprise, which constitutionally has a monopoly to sell electricity, is trying to explain to Haitians that the EDH is a commercial enterprise that risks bankruptcy if it doesn’t generate revenue.

"This is a sales office of the EDH, but the clients don’t understand this," explains Mr. Balde, manager of the Pétionville office.

In order to provide ongoing service to citizens, the State must subsidize the EDH with about US$200 million per year. The shortfalls in the enterprise’s revenues have a disastrous effect on the maintenance and much needed expansion of the networks.

Since 2006, the World Bank has sought to improve the quality of electricity supply and strengthen the financial and operational management of the EDH through the Electricity Loss Reduction Project (Projet de Réduction des Pertes du Secteur Electrique PREPSEL).

PREPSEL is expected to be strengthened by the end of the year through substantial additional World Bank assistance to the energy sector.

Strengthening a business approach to reduce losses

Energy is one of the five "Es" of the government’s program (along with Environment, Employment, Education, and Establishment of the rule of law) and it needs resources to boost investments and the reconstruction effort. In this context, PREPSEL seeks to improve the output of the EDH through better business management and a client-centered approach.

Since 2011, PREPSEL has facilitated the establishment of a computerized Business Management System (Système de Gestion Commerciale SGC) at the company’s headquarters and at each sales office in the metropolitan area. Long-distance communication via the Internet is helping to improve client service, reduce the processing time for requests, and correct problems more quickly.

"Because of the SGC, clients’ monthly bills can be generated in real time rather than every two or three months, as happened under the old management system," confirmed Mr. Balde.

The work on the ground is, however, a long-term undertaking for which staff is expected to receive ongoing training.

Sustainable alternatives to address emergencies

In addition, speedy alternatives are necessary to address emergencies. After the earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010, the World Bank, with financial support from the Global Environment Facility, started an emergency operation distributing solar lanterns to the affected population.

There was a pressing need for portable, individual, and self-sustaining lighting solutions to provide the basic lighting needed for family life, personal security, and the care of the injured.

5,000 solar lanterns were distributed free of cost in 2010 (two-thirds of which through the EDH), benefitting some 200,000 persons and more than 260 camps.

Preparing to manage the energy risk

The post-earthquake situation increased acute awareness of the need to address the existing energy gaps. The additional assistance being negotiated with the World Bank is expected to include a clause that allows for the allocation of emergency resources, based on the extent of the damage.

"In the event of problems, this would offer a quick financial response," explains Mr. Cange, EDH project coordinator for World Bank financing.

The Financial assistance would facilitate the purchase of equipment or the use of local companies to repair distribution lines in cases where the EDH does not have suitable equipment. The EDH could also ask external companies or consultants to repair high-voltage power lines.

It is clear that the EDH must play an important role in restoring energy security and overcoming the many challenges that remain. Furthermore, alternatives like the solar lanterns distributed by the World Bank are environmentally sustainable solutions, easy to use, and increasingly popular.

Haiti switches on to solar power as sustainable electricity solution.

Solar energy is clean, green and can help to solve Haiti's power crisis. Now the world's largest solar hospital is lighting the way.

Mirebalais is just an hour's drive north-east of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, but in terms of technological distance travelled, the town might as well be on another planet. On moonless nights, much of the capital is dark; its shacks and makeshift roadside stalls are lit only by flickering candles or small kerosene lamps. It could hardly be otherwise in a country where only about 20% of the 10 million population are estimated to have access to electricity, the lowest percentage in the Caribbean. But Mirebalais is home to a new, well-lit public hospital that can hum with activity round the clock. Seven months after the world's largest solar hospital opened its doors, its 1,800 rooftop solar panels have generated enough energy to charge more than 19,000 electric cars, run six surgical suites, attend to 60,029 patients and safely deliver more than 800 babies.

"The number of deliveries is a pretty substantial fact considering that approximately three-fourths of women in rural Haiti give birth at home. The hospital is helping to meet a substantial unmet need," said Jeff Marvin, of Partners in Health, which built the Mirebalais facility in partnership with Haiti's health ministry.

For Haiti, the hospital is a shining symbol of what the future might look like, powered by the island's plentiful sunshine. More than 60% of electricity generation is unsustainably based on imported diesel, mainly from Venezuela. The overwhelming majority of Haitians rely on charcoal and wood for fuel, contributing to rampant tree-felling that has reduced forest cover to the perilous level of 2%. The search for cleaner, greener alternatives has become increasingly urgent. This is driving an initiative to literally light up Haitian lives, especially in poor off-grid areas such as the camps that sprang up around Port-au-Prince after the devastating 2010 earthquake, as well as deep in the rural hinterland.

A consignment of 12,000 WakaWakas (Swahili for shine bright) solar lamps, made by a Dutch company, arrived in October after a 10-month "buy one, give one" campaign, mainly in the US. They are being distributed free or for symbolic recompense in the form of community service through a network of non-governmental organisations identified with help from the Clinton Global Initiative. "This is the biggest endeavour that has brought high-quality personal, portable and self-sufficient solar LED lighting to Haitian families," said Elanna Veldkamp, of Off-Grid Solutions, which manufactures the lamps in China. "The scale of this campaign provides for a real and lasting change."

Deforestation /Soil erosion

There is a widespread misconception that the use of charcoal (charbon in Kreyòl) is responsible for Haiti’s massive deforestation. Charcoal supplies 75% of energy used in Haiti. Without it, Haiti would be much more dependent on international energy suppliers and aid.Deforestation is caused by farmers clearing land for farming, often planting erosive crops such as corn and beans on mountainsides inappropriate for such crops. When trees are cut for charcoal, the roots are left, and the land is not plowed. Mesquite forests, Kasya, and Neem are repeatedly cut for charcoal because the trees coppice (re-sprout) and can be cut again in several years.

The value of charcoal in the Port-au-Prince market in 2007 was estimated at between US$110 and US$150 million. In comparison, Haitian mango exports were about $12 million in recent years (which does not include, of course, the sizable value of domestically-consumed mango). Cacao exports are $8 million.

Supply has kept up with demand. The real value of charcoal has not increased substantially since 1978, despite Haiti’s population doubling, thereby increasing demand for charcoal. In 1978, a 30kg sack of charcoal sold for $3 in Port-au-Prince. In today’s dollars, that’s $11.11 or 721 Haitian gourdes (HTG). Farmers in the southwestern city of Jérémie recently told me their price is 500HTG per sack, about US$7.38. Unless there has been a major decrease in the size of the sack since 1978, the real value of charcoal has not increased substantially. Charcoal would be getting more expensive if all the trees used to make it had been cut and not allowed to regrow.

What seems to have escaped most observers and commentators is that much of the wood for charcoal comes from trees that coppice after being cut down. In 1978, USAID had a reforestation project in the northwestern town of Jean Rabel. It reported that “while 2,000 ha [hectares] of trees are being planted through the […] Project, charcoal producers will be busily cutting down some 53,000 hectares of trees. The rate of deforestation will exceed reforestation by a factor of 25.” However, the report also notes that “approximately one million ha/yr of the total forest cut naturally regenerates.” The focus has been on how much is cut, but little is made of the fact that many of the cut trees coppice, and the charcoaler comes back in 4-6 years and cuts them down again.

Charcoal saves Haiti substantial amounts of foreign exchange. It is estimated that Haiti spends about 55% of its foreign exchange on energy. Haiti gets 75% of its energy from local, renewable sources. If Haiti had to purchase all of its energy from foreign sources, it could purchase only 50% of its energy needs using all of its foreign exchange.

Haitian trees provide the largest portion of the energy used in Haiti, however, existing methods of making charcoal allow 75% of the energy in the wood to be wasted. Thus, renewable energy from wood equal to more than double the amount of non-renewable energy that Haiti imports each year is wasted/lost in the traditional charcoal-making process. This loss is partially the result of the unwillingness to recognize the “elephant in the room” i.e. the misguided government policies relating to charcoal in Haiti. It is generally understood by science-guided individuals that wood-based energy is relatively carbon-neutral while non-renewable energy is carbon-positive and is a major cause of climate change. Current policy punishes charcoal for largely solvable problems while promoting non-renewable energy which carries the largely unsolvable problem of adding prehistoric carbon to the current atmosphere.Merchants sell charcoal in open-air markets throughout Haiti. In Jérémie, a sack of charcoal costs about 500 gourdes or US$7.38.

Modern charcoal making techniques are available that capture and use much of the energy not captured now. Wood gasifiers produce woodgas that can be used to bake bread or fuel engines to produce electricity or pump irrigation water. Small-scale gasifiers are being used by rural women for cook family meals – and the by-product is charcoal. If Haitian women, rather than men, produced charcoal in small-scale wood gasifying stoves (charcoal retorts), they would likely use the previously wasted heat for cooking and produce charcoal as a marketable by-product.

Concerned professional and non-professional engineers/inventors have largely solved the challenge of safely venting the exhaust from household-scale wood and charcoal fueled stoves. The “problems” associated with charcoal production and use can be solved if government policy encourages the search for solutions rather than mistakenly blaming charbon for Haitian deforestation. With appropriate policy, the Haitian charcoal industry can be encouraged to purposely plant fast-growing energy gardens to protect eroding hillsides, water sources, and national parks, while continuing to provide income to much of the rural population and save much of Haiti’s foreign exchange that would be spent on imported, non-renewable fuel.Charcoal is also an excellent fertilizer, thereby reducing the expense of and dependence on petroleum-based imports.

In September 2016, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) published a report of sustainable charcoal production in Haiti’s South Department. It states: “Fuel-wood forests are based on the principle of a rotating system for harvesting wood from trees with the purpose of making charcoal, construction poles, or other wood-based products. Typically, fast-growing tree species are planted and allowed to mature for approximately three years, depending on the species, after which point parts of the trees can be harvested on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. By planting trees for this purpose, individuals and families are able to accumulate an important form of capital (for example, wood for construction and/or charcoal) that they can rely on for regular income or as a reserve for large or unexpected events (such as illnesses, hospitalizations, funerals, etc.).”

“There are several strong examples of fuel-wood forests in Haiti that have been operating for over 20 years,” the UNEP report concludes. “One of these is in the Maniche area of the South Department and another in Desarmes.”

Haitian policy relating to charcoal is inconsistent. On one hand, the Haitian government discourages charcoal production in Haiti. At the same time, it illegalizes charcoal importation from the Dominican Republic, a measure which directly protects and supports the Haitian charcoal industry. Charcoal maybe the only Haitian industry that receives “import tariff” protection.

Even the World Bank recently published an interesting 2011 report on charcoal use in Africa. “In contrast to its economic potential, environmental implications, and importance for the energy security of a majority of the [Sub-Saharan Africa] population, the charcoal sector is currently viewed almost entirely negatively in most countries,” the report states. “Prevailing policies and laws tend to focus on regulations, enforcement, restrictions, and, where possible, moving from the sector altogether to other energy sources. However, if the sector was formalized, and involved modern, supportive policies, this could create employment opportunities and further broaden the revenue base for national and regional governments.” Similarly, charcoal policy in Haiti could and should be rationalized.