WASHINGTON, CMC – The World Bank is to provide US$162 million in grants to Haiti to improve the quality of health and education services and strengthen climate resilience in the French-speaking Caribbean country.
“These three projects address key national priorities to build a better future for all Haitians,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Haiti Country Director.
“Access to quality healthcare and education are crucial to break the cycle of poverty and to build a stronger human capital so that Haitian children can reach their full potential.
“The bank support will also help build climate resilience in the face of the growing threat of natural hazards by strengthening early warning systems and disaster preparedness in high climate risk areas,” she added.
The Washington-based financial institution said globally, Haiti ranks 112th on the World Bank Human Capital Index and that a child born today in the country today will be only 45 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she had enjoyed full health and education.
Goal of improving infant mortality
The World Bank said infant mortality in Haiti remains high with 59 death per 1,000 live births, and maternal mortality has increased from an estimated 523 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 646 per 100,000 live births in 2016, the World Bank said.
It said only 40 per cent of children are fully vaccinated, which has contributed to outbreaks of preventable diseases such as cholera, diphtheria and measles.
Improve educational outcomes
Similarly, the World Bank said the education outcomes are not very promising. On average, it said Haitian children attend 11.4 years of school by age 18, which is equivalent of 6.3 years of adjusted learning and is the lowest score in the region.
In terms of disaster risks, Haiti is highly exposed to hurricanes, floods and earthquakes and the World Bank noted that between 1976 and 2012, losses associated with hydro-meteorological events alone were equivalent to almost two per cent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) on average.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew affected over two million people, resulting in over 500 deaths and displaced 175,000 people.
The “Strengthening Primary Health Care and Surveillance in Haiti” project will “significantly enhance basic healthcare services for three million people, particularly for pregnant women and children in the South, North West, North-East, Center and Nippes departments,” the World Bank said.
It said the project will strengthen nationwide surveillance capacity and immunization for infectious diseases, and will also improve the overall coordination among government and international partners in the health sector.
The World Bank said the US$70 million project is financed by a US$55 million grant from International Development Association (IDA) and a US$15 million grant from the Global Financing Facility.
The IDA is the World Bank’s institution that provides low-interest or interest-free grants and loans to the world’s poorest countries to help them implement projects and programs that stimulate economic growth, contribute to the reduction of poverty and improve the living conditions of the poor.
The World Bank said the second approved grant for the “Providing an Education of Quality in Haiti” project is to increase enrollment and improve the school learning condition in public and private primary schools in the Southern departments of Haiti.
The project will particularly focus on closing the gender gaps in attendance and retention rates.
The third project, “Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience”, will support the design of a national early warning system and improve emergency response and evacuation capacity of targeted municipalities in high climate risk-prone areas.