Haiti’s Progress Toward SDGs over the Past Couple of Decades

The “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” are a set of 17 goals elaborated by the United Nations (UN) which aim to end poverty and to trend to a more prosperous planet. For each goal, the UN has provided many indicators to measure progress for different countries. In order to evaluate Haiti’s progress toward the SDGs, I have selected 10 SDGs and several indicators and summarized them in Figure 1. Generally, Haiti’s situation about those goals has been stagnant over the past couple decades. For all the indicators analyzed, a decline or very slight progress has been observed.

Poverty, Hunger, and Health (SDGs 1, 2, and 3)
As the poorest country in the northern hemisphere in terms of GDP per capita, the level of development is quite low by evaluating it from many perspectives (human rights, basic needs).  According to Sen A. development is closely related to freedom, not being able to meet basic needs such as adequate nourishment, a minimum economic gain, or minimum healthcare is a barrier to people’s freedom. Evaluating Haiti from this perspective shows generally no progress. As can be seen in Figure 2, the “No poverty” goal which is evaluated by the proportion of population below the international poverty line shows no progress. From 2000 to 2015, Haiti has an average of 33.15 % of its citizens below the poverty threshold, with all the values per year close to the mean. However, since 2013 slight improvement is being observed. Furthermore, the prevalence of undernourishment (hunger’s indicator) is also quite large with an average value of 54% from 2000 to 2015 (Figure 3). Additionally, the prevalence of malnutrition maintained an average of 7.3% from 2000 to 2012 (Figure 4). When it comes to healthcare, the neonatal mortality rate with an average of 28.63 per 1000 birth maintain a value above 25 per 1000 births as shown in Figure 5. All these indicators show no substantial progress for Haiti towards SDG 1,2 and 3.

Education and Gender Equality (SDGs 4 and 5)
With a human right development approach, we can analyze education and gender equality in Haiti. One of the Human Rights’ motivation is to ensure capabilities of the citizens regardless their age and sex to participate in the community’s life, thus requiring a minimum education and equality among people. The indicators chosen to evaluate those two goals are “Literacy Rate” and “Proportion of seats held by women in governments”. As can be seen in Figure 6 the percentage of women in local government is very low, it went up in 2012 at 12 %, but thereafter has trended to 4%. This is a proof of huge inequality within Haiti, which means that policies are created and voted by men, thus biased. Moreover, Figure 7 shows how the literacy rate is growing, but still under 62 % which means more than 38% still can’t have the right to elementary education.

Clean Water, Access to Energy, and Life on land for the Goals (SDGs 6, 7, and 15)
As can be seen in Figure 8, the proportion of the population with access to electricity is slightly increasing but is still below 50%. Furthermore, the proportion of people with access to safe sanitation services is in a negative slope (Figure 9) which is very discomforting as it increases vulnerability to preventable diseases. Additionally, the forest cover (indicator for SDG 15) has been less than 5% in the recent decades (Figure 10). These three indicators thus show how the SDGs 6,7, and 15 are far from being achieved.

Economic Growth (SDGs 8)
As can be seen in Figure 11, the economic growth of Haiti is analyzed with two indicators: the “Annual Growth Rate of Real GDP per Capita” and the “Annual Growth Rate of Real GDP per Employed Person”. To begin with, it shows little growth and even decline occasionally. In addition, it shows some inequality of growth for employed and unemployed people. Employed people have greater growth and a lesser decline from 2000 to 2007. But, thereafter it’s the opposite.

Climate Change (SDGs 13)
The amount of CO2 emission is an important indicator to account environmental issues. Like many other indicators analyzed above, this has also detrimentally increased from time to time (Figure 12). As can be seen, the CO2 emission was 1.38 metric ton in 2000 and has doubled in 2015. Thus, the situation is worsening as CO2 is a greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

Key factors underlying Haiti’s low level of development?
Haiti’s low level of development can be assessed through some basic needs of the people which are not met, then impacting the entire system. As shown in the analysis above, the literacy rate is low, and undernourishment prevalent. With those basics not met, no development can be expected. In fact, the people have too many unfreedoms, thus unable to be productive for the society. As a result, it compromises economic growth, and their capacity to deal with environmental issues, and political strategies. As can be seen in Haiti, aberrantly many senators don’t have a background in politics or laws, and they are elected to vote laws. That’s why the basics needs mentioned above should be met before expecting to break the status quo in Haiti.

Key Factors Underlying Failure in Haiti
Even though there is slight economic growth in Haiti, the indicators presented are generally quite conclusive about Haiti’s failure. Economic growth is insignificant when in average 33% of the people still live below the international poverty line with less than $1.90 US dollars per day. This percentage is lowering but is still 25% in 2015. Consequently, the people can’t get out of the poverty trap which is a major cause of economic stagnation (Sachs, the end of poverty p. 56). They can’t afford the very basic needs they have such as, minimum education, minimum healthcare, and adequate nourishment. This is coherent to the fact that undernourishment is generally prevalent by 54%.

Key Factors Underlying Success in Haiti
The data analyzed is hardly conclusive in underlining success of Haiti toward the SDGs. However, slight improvements have been observed in access to electricity and education, but still does not reach an acceptable level. From 1995 to 2015 the literacy rate has increased from 45% to 60.7%, and the access to electricity rises from 33% to 37%. Those percentages are still too low to consider them as a success toward the SDGs, but if the trends maintain the same pace in the next decades it will hopefully have a meaningful impact on Haiti’s development. In fact, electricity and education are among the basic needs to be met to be free and very capable to achieve our goal in this modernized world.

Recommendations to Haiti’s Leaders
For Haiti, there is a sort of stagnation which should be addressed by the government through education investment. Like Sen’s approach to development, resources are not enough to reach a satisfactory level of development. There should also be a conversion factor to enable people to be capable of using their resources, thereafter they will have the freedom to choose by which mean they can achieve their goals. This conversion factor can be education (literacy, more schools and university enrollment). The government should thus invest more money in this area to empower the citizens and more likely make Haiti a developing country in the coming decades.



Figure 1–  SDGs and Indicators

Goal Indicators Progress
1 No poverty Proportion of the population below the international poverty line, earning less than 1.9 dollars per day. No progress
2 Zero Hunger Prevalence of Undernourishment No progress
Prevalence of malnutrition
3 Good Health and Well-Being Neonatal mortality rate No progress
Maternal mortality ratio, per 100000 births.
4 Quality Education Literacy rate Progress
5 Gender Equality Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments and local governments Stable
6 Clean Water and Sanitation Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water Regress
7 Affordable and Clean Energy Proportion of population with access to electricity Slight progress
8 Decent Work and Economic Growth Annual Growth Rate of Real GDP per Capita Very slight progress
Annual Growth Rate of Real GDP per employed person
13 Climate Action CO2 Emission Regress
15 Life on Land Forest Cover Regress


Figure 2–  Haiti’s Poverty(unstats.un.org)

Figure 3– Undernourishment in Haiti

Figure 4– Malnutrition in Haiti(unstats.un.org)




Figure 5– Neonatal Mortality in Haiti(unstats.un.org)


Figure 6–  Women in Haiti’s Government(unstats.un.org)


 Figure 7–  Haiti’s Literacy rate (indexmundi.com)


Figure 8–  Access to Electricity in Haiti(unstats.un.org)


Figure 9–  Sanitation in Haiti(unstats.un.org)

 Figure 10–  Forest cover in Haiti (World Bank)


Figure 11–  Haiti’s economic growth Government(unstats.un.org)


Figure 12–  Haiti’s CO2 emission(unstats.un.org)



Works Cited

Human Development Report 2000. “Chapter 1- Human rights and Development”. Courseweb

“Indexmundi.com”, Haiti, Demographic-Literacy

Sachs, Jeffrey. “Chapter 3- Why Some Countries Fail to Thrive.” The End of Poverty. Courseweb. 2005.

Sen A. “Chapter 1-  Development as Freedom” Courseweb. 1999.

UN Statistics Division. “SDG Indicators Global Database.” United Nations. Web. Nov. 2017.




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