General information on Haiti

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. To make matters worse, natural disasters have devastated the lives of vulnerable families and children. In 2010, an earthquake destroyed vast parts of the country. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, leaving thousands of families without food or water, causing severe damage to infrastructure and claiming the lives of hundreds of people.
Making a living as street vendors - photo: Sophie Preisch
SOS Children’s Villages runs schools throughout Haiti (photo: D. Pereira).
The Republic of Haiti has a total population of about 10 million, with approximately 900,000 living in the country's capital, Port-au-Prince. Its official languages are Creole and French. 

Haiti has undergone decades of poverty, economic dependence and political instability. It is now the poorest nation in the Americas.

Natural disasters have also affected the lives of vulnerable families and children. In January 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti and killed an estimated 220,000 people. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes, and many families have yet to recover from the devastation. To make things worse, the earthquake was followed by a cholera epidemic, Hurricane Tomas, and controversial presidential elections that caused further chaos.

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck the southwest coast of Haiti. It caused widespread damage and flooding, which affected around 2.1 million people. Directly after the hurricane, there was an urgent need for shelter, food, clean drinking water and medical care. The damaged infrastructure and the contamination of the water sources led to a rise in cholera cases.
 

Families struggling due to poverty and unemployment

Historically, Haiti has always been a country with a significantly uneven distribution of income. Approximately 80 per cent of Haitians live in poverty, most of them under precarious conditions.

They face a life without proper sanitation, electricity or running water. The situation is worst in rural areas: people here have about a third of the income of people living in urban areas. Access to basic services is limited: 52 per cent do not have clean drinking water and 80 per cent do not have proper sanitation facilities.

HIV/AIDS infections had already been one of the leading causes of death prior to the earthquake. After the disaster, they posed an even greater threat. 2.1 per cent of the population has HIV/AIDS - this is one of the highest rates in the world.
 
After Hurricane Matthew, SOS Children's Villages distributed food to local vulnerable families near Les Cayes  (Photo: M. Eliscar Getro).