The FINANCIAL — Political newcomer Jovenel Moise faces many challenges if and when he becomes Haiti’s next president, including Haitians’ unhappiness with almost every aspect of their country’s infrastructure. Haitians in 2016 are the least satisfied in the world with multiple aspects of their country’s infrastructure, from the availability of quality healthcare to the quality of their air and water — and that was before the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Matthew.
Moise was the top vote-getter in an October 2015 election, but the results were scrapped in mid-2016 amid widespread accusations of voter fraud. The date for the rerun election was spoiled by Hurricane Matthew. The election finally took place two weeks ago, with Moise winning a majority of the votes. Still, some of his competitors have said they will contest the latest results once the votes are verified this month, according to Gallup.
The elected president is a banana exporter with no previous political experience, and will now head a country that continues to struggle years after a devastating 2010 earthquake as well as the recent hurricane.
Perhaps the most immediate challenge for Moise is Haiti’s healthcare crisis. The country has long struggled with cholera outbreaks, and the U.N. recently acknowledged its role in an acute outbreak that took place in 2010 after the earthquake. Cholera became a problem again after Matthew. Many doctors struggle to care for patients without medicine, electricity or water.
Before Matthew, Haitians’ satisfaction with the availability of quality healthcare in the city or area where they live dropped to a new low of 9% in the first half of 2016 — less than half of the prior year’s figure. It is difficult to imagine how this figure could improve after the hurricane’s damage.
Low in Satisfaction With Water Quality Matches Post-Earthquake 2010
Water shortages are another long-term problem that plagues the nation, and further challenges its struggles with cholera. According to the World Bank’s analysis last year, fewer than one in four Haitians have access to a working toilet, and less than half of rural residents in the country have access to running water.
Prior to the hurricane, about a quarter of Haitians (26%) expressed satisfaction with their quality of water, matching the low in post-earthquake 2010. This is the lowest figure among the 140 countries Gallup surveyed in 2016.
Satisfaction With Housing Matches Post-Earthquake Low From 2010
Housing was already an issue in Haiti before the latest storm hit. The 2010 earthquake left 2 million residents homeless, with many living in camps.
Before Matthew, just 17% of Haitians said they were satisfied with the availability of affordable housing, matching the 2010 post-earthquake low. Additionally, over the past five years, between 40% and 48% of Haitians have said there were times during the year in which they did not have enough money for shelter or housing for themselves and their family.
Once disputes over the election results have been settled, the incoming president will preside over a country still grappling to rebuild after the earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew this year.
New leadership presents a new opportunity for the country to rebuild in a sustainable way. Moise has pledged to create a master plan for development projects, which aid groups and foreign governments would need to observe.
Critics say that despite good intentions, foreign aid to post-earthquake Haiti failed in critical ways in its planning and execution. Avoiding these failures is key in order to set Haiti on a path to success.