A worker surveys USAID-funded housing site near the Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti on November 10, 2011. USAID
The year 2011 marked Haiti's first peaceful democratic transition from the administration of one government to one led by an opposition candidate. Partnering with the new government, the United States is supporting Haiti to improve the economic security of its citizens. With an estimated 40 percent of the population out of work, unemployment remains one of Haiti's most pressing problems. From a peak employment of 100,000 in the early 1980s, employment in the garment sector has declined due to embargoes, insecurity, and lack of investment. Recent U.S. trade preferences, enacted through the HOPE (2010) and HELP II (2008) legislation have made Haiti a more attractive place to invest.
In its National Action Plan, the Government of Haiti expressed its desire to create centers of economic development outside of Port-au- Prince for Haiti's growth and to bring jobs to Haiti's underserved regions. The Caracol Industrial Park is a first step toward achieving this goal, bringing together the Haitian and U.S. Governments, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd.― Korea's leading garment manufacturer. The park is projected to create 20,000 permanent jobs through Sae-A's investment alone, and marks the first major public-private partnership to bring permanent jobs to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake. At a ceremony in November 2011, the first stone was laid in the park and activity is projected to begin in the first quarter of 2012. The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Department of State, helped to broker the public-private partnership. Through USAID, the United States is supporting several key interventions to prepare for and support the Park including the construction of a power plant, exploring approaches to improve regional ports, transition initiatives to help the region cope with rapid urbanization, and support for housing.
The United States' Feed the Future initiative is supporting the Haitian Government's priorities in agriculture, working to ensure sustainable growth in the agricultural sector in Government of Haiti-prioritized fertile plains. The U.S. Government is working with farmers, farmer associations, and scientists to introduce new techniques and technologies, strengthen agricultural infrastructure along the whole value chain, and attract investments from private businesses―with an overall aim to improve livelihoods for more than 100,000 farmer households, corresponding to 8-10 percent of the rural population. This investment will not only lead to nutritional improvements in the population, but also improve the lives of farmers benefitting from increased crop yields and incomes.
While working with the Government of Haiti on long term economic development, the United States continues to stand with the Haitian people during emergencies. On October 21, 2010, the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP) confirmed cases of cholera for the first time in at least a century. At the request of the Government of Haiti, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID-already helping Haiti build sustainable health systems to detect and combat the spread of communicable diseases in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake-immediately began working with MSPP and the Pan American Health Organization to lessen the severity of the outbreak. Through December 2011, the U.S. Government provided expertise and more than $73 million to prevent additional cholera cases and support the response. Though deaths from cholera were high in the first few months of the epidemic, Haitian-led international efforts have helped ensure the fatality rate remains consistently below the international standard of 1 percent.