External shocks to fragile states: Building resilience in Haiti

image of External shocks to fragile states: Building resilience in Haiti

Whereas the earthquake of 12 January 2010 was an “internal shock” to Haiti, several external shocks had a dramatic impact on the life of Haitians in 2008. That these shocks erupted from exogenous sources is evidence that, in an interdependent global system, all states – but particularly those that are fragile and suffer from weak governance – are vulnerable to phenomena beyond their control: soaring prices of food caused by diverse factors from around the world; climate change and extreme weather, which is prompting stronger and more frequent natural disasters; and the global financial crisis. Around the world these shocks caused major social distress and instigated complex political crises. Together and independently, all three exposed several countries’ vulnerabilities as well as the inability of these states to respond to them. Whereas developed states with large and diversified economies were better positioned to adapt, vulnerable and fragile states were nowhere near as resilient, and often suffered important setbacks on the way out of poverty and underdevelopment. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than in Haiti, a clear case in which both conditions – vulnerability and fragility – aggravate the quality of life of its population. This chapter sets out to do three things: first, to examine the causes of and links between Haiti’s vulnerability and fragility; second, to assess the negative effects of the three grave crises of 2008 on the statebuilding process; and third, to explore possible ways donors can help to mitigate vulnerability in order to diminish the impact of future external shocks as the country attempts to recover from the worst internal shock of its modern history.

Related Subject(s): Economic and Social Development
Sustainable Development Goals:
Countries: Haiti
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