Haiti: poverty and environmental exploitation

Globalization and the interest of large primary industries have been causing negative effects 

Haiti: poverty and environmental exploitation 

As a result of the interest of settlers and primary industries, the international system adopted an economy based on the exploitation of resources, which has played an important role in the environment; it has affected the soil, aquifers, and natural deposits. Therefore, and due to the adoption of neoliberalism as a worldwide policy, ecosystems are being put under stress due to the world’s consumption process that seems to be increasing everyday.

A reference of the above is the nation of Haiti. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that, a century ago, the Caribbean nation possessed its natural fauna and flora. Recently, the quantity of the native trees has been steadily declining as they are now in danger of being extinct. This is due to the fact that deforestation is being promoted by the sugar industry that seeks to satisfy its buyers.

According to the Swiss agency for development and cooperation, COSUDE, of the 32,000 hectares of pine trees that covered Haiti, there are currently 10,000. The agency fears that forests will disappear in 20 years.

Given the difficult environmental situation, States and international donors have not been able to direct a policy based on sustainable development. UNEP has stated that the environmental situation is a vicious circle given that the lack of economic resources, extreme poverty, and the expansion of the sugar industry don’t allow formulating proposals to find a solution. Likewise, UNEP warns that the problem of desertification is not the only environmental obstacle because Haiti is also being threatened by severe siltation, runoff, and erosion as a result of climate change.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the environmental problems that Haiti is experiencing can not be solved only with environmental recovery projects. The structural problems within society must also be solved to prevent the deterioration caused by the population. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) formulated the following question to demonstrate that environmental problem must be addressed from different approaches. A representative of PAHO stated: ” ‘A hungry stomach has no ears’, says a French proverb. How can you convince someone that they should not cut a tree if that person is convinced that what they are doing directly contributes to their survival?”.


Latin American Post | Bryan Andres Murcia

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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