HaItI Haiti country information Location: Caribbean capitaL: Port-au-Prince popuLation: 9.8 million Size: Slightly smaller than Maryland LanguageS: French and Creole ReLigionS: Roman Catholic 80 percent, Protestant 16 percent, other 4 percent; Note: Approximately 50 percent of the population also practices Voodoo Life expectancy: 62 years chiLd MoRtaLity Rate: 87 deaths / 1,000 live births acceSS to cLean WateR: 63 percent acceSS to cLean Sanitation: 17 percent LiteRacy Rate: 53 percent popuLation Living on LeSS than $1.25 day: 55 percent Sources: UNICEF, 2010 & CIA World Factbook, 2012 Haiti ? How does a history of instability affect a country’s development? a troubled Past Haiti was the first Caribbean state to achieve independence and the only nation in world history born of a successful slave revolt. Yet decades of poverty, environmental degradation, violence, and political instability have left it as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with over half the population living on less than $1.25 a day. When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492, it was inhabited by Taino Amerindians. The Spanish soon settled on the island and then ceded the west and central sides to the French in 1697, who called the did You KnoW? ■■ Voodoo is an integral part of Haitian culture, history and identity. ■■ The Taino named the island Ayiti, meaning “Mountainous Land.” cHecK it out See a PBS special on Haitian Voodoo: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week642/feature.html Read the latest news on Haiti: http://www.haitiglobe.com colony St. Domingue. There was a heavy importation of slaves from western Africa, and the colony soon became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s 500,000 slaves revolted and started a rebellion. Under the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture, they were able to overthrow the colonial government and declare independence in 1804. Since its independence, however, Haiti has been plagued by instability and dictatorships and it is now among the poorest countries in the world. The lack of foreign investment contributes to the declining economic situation of the country. ■■ Haitian Creole is based on French but also contains influences from Taino and African languages, as well as Portuguese, Spanish and English.
Water IN HaItI citoya’s story Citoya is seven years old and lives in Saut d’Eau, a rural village in Haiti. Every afternoon she spends an hour walking with her sister to the closest spring. There, the girls fill up buckets of water to carry back home. The water is enough to last the rest of the day, but it must be boiled or treated before anyone can drink it. A few times a week, the family goes to the spring together to bathe and wash clothes or other items. Citoya’s day is very busy—going to school, getting water, and helping in the family garden. But she is one of the lucky ones; many of the children in her village cannot afford the $10 a year that the local school costs. Access to safe drinking water is a constant problem for more than half of the people living in Haiti. Daily water collection can take up to five hours and is the primary chore of women and children. Activities like washing clothes and bathing are also time consuming and costly. Many people living in rural areas get their water from fresh springs, but these are often contaminated by animal use. can you imagine walking for hours simply to get a glass of drinking water? ? What would you do to improve water access in Haiti? the international Water Poverty index Haiti ranks at the absolute bottom of the International Water Poverty Index. British researchers developed the index to examine water access, environmental sustainability and the states of general living conditions. They used five different criteria to construct the index: resource, access, use, capacity, and environment. How do trees affect the Water supply? A lack of alternative energy forces many Haitians to cut down trees in order to make charcoal. This deforestation contributes to water shortages because rainwater pours off the land and into the ocean, instead of getting trapped in a tree’s roots and staying in the soil. This leaves many lakes empty and dries up the soil. What would you do to prevent this cycle? WHat is being done since tHe 2010 eartHquaKe? Organizations like Concern Worldwide are working throughout Haiti to help to bring clean and safe drinking water to local residents. This life-saving work has become even more critical since January 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince and left 1.5 million people displaced from their homes. Concern launched an immediate, large-scale emergency response within 48 hours of the disaster. Since then, Concern has been providing access to clean water and sanitation to over 75,000 people living in camps. For the future, Concern is working with local communities to ensure sustainable access to clean water and sanitation in order to help Haiti recover and rebuild for the long term. cHecK it out See the International Water Poverty Index: http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/water-resources/variable-1299.html Learn more about the benefits of trees: http://www.arborday.org