© IOM 2014 (photo: Susanne Melde)

According to the World Risk Index (WRI, 2014) of the United Nations University (BEH and UNU-EHS, 2014), Haiti is the most vulnerable country in the Latin American and Caribbean region: indeed, it is facing almost every possible kind of environmental alteration that can frequently have an impact on migratory flows (Pierre, 2015:13). Haiti is highly exposed to both sudden-onset climatic events, including disasters and slow processes. The country is prone to thunderstorms and cyclones, and as a consequence, landslides; it is regularly struck by earthquakes – 18 since 1751 – triggering major disasters (Prépetit, 2011; Pierre, 2015). The earthquake on 12 January 2010 caused more than 220,000 deaths and resulted in over 1.5 million internally displaced persons living in camps on open ground and public land (Sherwood et al., 2014). However, recent research has demonstrated that migration can be a successful adaptation strategy to a degrading environment and disasters in the context of Haiti, especially through circular/seasonal mobility (Melde, 2015).


MECLEP publications on Haiti: 

  • Milan et al., 2015. When do households benefit from migration? Migration, Environment and Climate Change Policy Brief Series, Volume 1, Issue 8. IOM, Geneva. Available from here.
  • Hancy P., 2015. Defis, Enjeux et Politiques: Migrations, Environnement et Changements Climatiques en Haiti. IOM, Geneva. Available form here.  


 Basic Facts

 Geographic location

 Central America, Caribbean Sea


 10.7 million


 27,750 km²

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita PPP 

 USD 1,731.8 (2014)

 Income level

 Low Income

 Human Development Index (HDI) Rank

 168th out of 187 countries

Population, 2011, based on data from the United Nations Population Fund's The State of World Population 2011.
Area refers to Total Surface Area Data from UNSD Demographic Statistics 2008, United Nations Statistics Division.
Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity). The sum value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year valued at prices prevailing in the United States of America. GDP Per Capita (PPP), 2010, is Gross Domestic Product on a Purchasing Power Parity basis divided by the population. GDP Per Capita PPP based on data from the World Bank's World Development Indicators. Data are in current international dollars.
Income level. Income levels show the income category of a particular country as identified by the World Bank. For more information on income level, including the methodology used by the World Bank, please visit the World Bank’s Country Classification.
Human Development Index (HDI). A composite indicator that measures development and human progress based on health, education, and purchasing power. The higher the HDI rank, the higher a country's level of development. HDI Rank, 2011, based on data from the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report 2011.


 Migration patterns

 Net Migration Rate


 Total Migrant Stock

  •  38,061
  • Irregular migration patterns amongst Haitian migrant workers are highest to the Dominican Republic (DR) and the US and also go to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and   the Bahamas. New destinations include Brazil, Argentine and Chile (IOM, 2013b). Haiti is also an important transit route for irregular migrants from China, Sri Lanka, Africa, the Middle East  and  other countries, often en route to more developed countries in North America.

 Women as a Percentage of  Immigrants


 Number of Refugees


 Number of Internally Displaced  Persons (IDPs)

 *6,500 **Not Available ***Not Available

 Urbanization rate

 2.40 % annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

 Remittances (in-flows) 

  •  21,1% of the GPA (2013)
  •  In 2011, remittances made up 30% of Haiti’s GDP.
  • Beyond being a powerful short-term recovery tool, migration is vital to the long-term development of Haiti as well. According to recent estimates, each Haitian worker in the US would typically raise their family's income by $19,000 a year; indeed, each worker would send as much as 50 percent of their earnings back home (Kenny, 2012). It is significant to point out that after the 2010 earthquake, about 200,000 Haitians living in the United States without proper documents were granted "temporary protected status," which allowed them to work and send remittances home.

 Internal remittances

  • Often, the migration of a household member follows a necessity for additional source of income (Melde, 2015). Internal migrants’ remittances are an important source of income for their families and seem to support resilience to further environmental shocks (Melde, 2015).



























Net Migration Rate, 2010-2015. The difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1,000 persons. An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration (e.g., 3.56 migrants/1,000 population); an excess of persons leaving the country is referred to as net emigration (e.g., -9.26 migrants/1,000 population). Net Migration Rate based on data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division's World Population Prospects: the 2015 Revision Population Database.
Total Migrant Stock. Estimated number of international migrants at mid-year, 2013.  United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division's World Population Prospects: the 2008 Revision Population Database.
Women as a Percentage of Immigrants. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division's World Population Prospects: the 2008 Revision Population Database.
Number of Refugees: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014. *Residing in country/ **Originating from country
Number of IDPs: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2015. *IDPs newly displaced by disasters / **IDPs newly displaced by conflict and violence / *** IDPs displaced by conflict and violence (protracted displacement).
Urbanization rate: Average Annual Rate of Change of the Urban Population by Major Area, Region and Country, 1950-2050 (per cent) as per the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision.
Remittances in-flows. World Bank staff calculation based on data from IMF Balance of Payments Statistics database and data releases from central banks, national statistical agencies, and World Bank country desks.


 Environmental Facts and Changes

 Environmental performance index

 176th out of 178th countries

 Long-term climate change risk  index

 3rd out of 159 countries

 83rd out of 159 countries

 World risk index

 21st out of 171 countries

 ND-GAIN country index

 171st out of 180 countries

 Significant disaster events

 Type                     Date                       Total deaths

 Storm               20-09-1990                       190

 Drought            00-04-1992

 Storm                05-11-1994                      1,122

 Flood                 23-05-2004                     2,665

 Storm                17-09-2004                     2,754

 Storm                28-10-2007                         90

 Storm                26-08-2008                         85

 Storm                02-09-2008                       529

 Earthquake       12-01-2010                   222,570

 Storm                 24-10-2012                         75

 Drought              00-01-2014

 Environmental change

  •  Slow-onset events and rapid on-set disasters
  • Land and Forest degradation
  • Increasing temperatures
  • Decreasing biodiversity
  • Drought/desertification
  • Coastal erosion
  • Sea-level rise
  • Salinization


  • Hurricanes
  • Tropical storms
  • Floods
  • Landslides
  • Earthquakes


  • Haiti has been increasingly affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes and  tropical storms and also by floods and droughts, the impacts of which are aggravated by unsound urbanization practices, the use of natural resources and waste management. The population is highly vulnerable to climate variations: Haiti is still recovering from one hurricane in 2007, three hurricanes in 2008 and its most severe earthquake in 200 years, which hit the country in January 2010.

 Climate change impacts

  • Ecosystems and livelihoods
  • The most vulnerable sector to climate change is definitely agriculture that is  extremely important for the population. The country is very much affected by land degradation, especially in the coastal zones. Water management (in light of desertification and salinization processes) is also very problematic.


Environmental performance index. The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks how well countries perform on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas: protection of human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems (2014).
Long-term climate change risk index. The Global Climate Risk Index 2015 analyses to what extent countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.). The most recent data available – from 2013 and 1994–2013 – were taken into account.
World risk index. The WorldRiskIndex developed by UNU-EHS describes the disaster risk for various countries and regions. The main focus of the report is the threat from, or exposure to key natural hazards and the rise in sea level caused by climate change, as well as social vulnerability in the form of the population’s susceptibility and their capacity for coping and adaptation.
ND-GAIN Country Index. A project of the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), summarizes a country's vulnerability to climate change and other global challenges in combination with its readiness to improve resilience.
Significant disaster events. Based on EM-DAT, which contains essential core data on the occurance and effects of over 18,000 mass disasters in the world from 1900 to present. 


 Adaptation policies 
 National Laws and Policies, Regional frameworks  

 Climate Change and Adaptation  Policies

  Inclusion of Migration

2001 - First National Communication (FNC)

  • Link rural-urban migration established (Government of Haiti, 2001:31).

2001 - National Plan for Disaster Risk Management 


  • The need to strengtht the response capacity of the poor and thus the most vulnerable to natural disasters is highlighted;
  • human mobility linked to forced evacuations is mentioned (Government of Haiti, 2001b:29).

2006 - National Action Plan of Adaptation (NAPA)

  • Internal migration (rural‒urban migration) identified as an urgent problem in the context of climate change; 
  • environmental migration recognized as an issue in realtion to drought (Government of Haiti, 2006:16).

2011 - Second National Communication (SNC)

  • Relationship between environmental changes caused by climate change and its impact on migration highlighted;
  • migration recognized as a survival strategy in response to the impacts of climate change (Government of Haiti, 2011:167).

2015 -  INDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) submitted for the Twenty-first Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris (COP21)

  • Migration featured as a possible adaptation strategy to climate change that can be managed through planned urban development in order to reduce disaster risk;
  • the need of producing and spreading knowledge about climate change and migration in schools is stressed  (Government of Haiti, 2015:10).


IOM Country Specialists

  • Claire Emmanuelle Pressoir – MECLEP Focal Point Haiti
  • Peter Kioy – Camp Management Officer, CMO / CCCM
  • Emmanuelle Deryce –Team Leader, Registration


For more information on IOM’s activities in Haiti: http://haiti.iom.int/


Key Documents / References

Boulot, T. 
2013  Responding to hurricane Isaac: Assessing Evacuations and Federal levee seven years after Katrina. In: The State of Environmental Migration 2012 (F. Gemenne, P. Brücker, and D. Ionesco, eds). IDDRI/SciencesPo/OIM, Paris, p 61.

Bündnis Entwicklung hilft (BEH) and United Nations University-Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
2014  World Risk Report 2014 (WRR 2014). L'Institut pour l'environnement et la sécurité humaine, Bonn. Available from http://i.unu.edu/media/ehs.unu.edu/news/4070/11895.pdf

Cody, J.
2013  Migration and the Environment: The case of Hurricane Sandy in Haïti. In: The State of Environmental Migration 2012 (F. Gemenne, P. Brücker, and D. Ionesco, eds). IDDRI/SciencesPo/OIM, Paris, p. 32.

Government of Haiti
1999  Plan National d’Action pour l’Environnement (PAE). In English: National Action Plan for the Environment. Ministère de l’Environnement de Haiti. Available from www.academia.edu/5313170/Plan_dAction_pour_ lEnvironnement_HAITI_Rapport_ int%C3%A9rimaire_Am%C3%A9nagement_ du_Territoire
2001a  Première Communication Nationale (PCN) sur les changements climatiques. First National Communication. Available from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/hainc1.pdf
2001b  Plan national de réponse aux urgences (PNRU). Available from www. preventionweb.net/files/30709_788fr1.pdf
2006 Plan d’Action National d’Adaptation (PANA). Available from http://unfccc. int/resource/docs/napa/hti01f.pdf
2011  Deuxième Communication Nationale sur les changements climatiques (DCN). In English: Second National Communication. Available from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/htinc2.pdf
2015  Contribution Prévue Déterminée au niveau National (INDC). Available from www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/ Published%20Documents/Haiti/1/CPDN_Republique%20d’Haiti.pdf

Kelpsaite, L. and E. Mach
2015  Migration as adaptation? A comparative analysis of policy frameworks on the environment and development in MECLEP countries. Migration, Environment and Climate Change Policy Brief Series, Volume 1, Issue 5. IOM, Geneva. Available from http://environmentalmigration.iom.int/policy-brief-series-issue-5-migration-adaptation

Kenny, C. 
2012  Build Back Better: Great Slogan, Bad Idea? Available from www.cgdev.org/blog/build-back-better-great-slogan-bad-idea

Milan, A. et al. 
2015  When do households benefit from migration? Insights from vulnerable environment in Haiti. Migration, Environment and Climate Change Policy Brief Series, Volume 1, Issue 8. IOM, Geneva. Available from http://environmentalmigration.iom.int/policy-brief-series-issue-8-when-do-households-benefit-migration

Melde, S.
2015  The poor pay the price: New research insights on human mobility, climate change and disasters. Migration, Environment and Climate Change Policy Brief Series, Volume 1, Issue 9. IOM, Geneva. Available from http://environmentalmigration.iom.int/policy-brief-series-issue-9-poor-pay-price-new-research-insights-human-mobility-climate-change-and

Pierre, H. 
2015  Defis, Enjeux et Politiques: Migrations, Environnement et Changements Climatiques en Haiti. IOM, Geneva. Available from http://environmentalmigration.iom.int/assessing-evidence-migration-environment-and-climate-change-haiti-0

Scherwood, A. et al.
2014  Supporting Durable Solutions to Urban, Post-Disaster Displacement: Challenges and Opportunities in Haiti. IOM/The Brookings Institution, Geneva/Washington DC. Availabel from http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Reports/2014/02/07-haiti-displacement/Supporting-Durable-Solutions-to-DisplacementHaiti-March-4-2014.pdf?la=en