Remittances in crises: A Haiti case study

Working and discussion papers
April 2006
Patricia Fagen

This study of Haiti is part of the project of the Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) to compare three cases (Sri Lanka, Somalia and Haiti) where remittance flows are believed to have contributed to survival and recovery. Remittances to Haiti over the past decade have far exceeded foreign aid or international investment. Although ongoing research has established the value of remittances to developing countries generally, the particular issue of their role in emergencies has yet to be examined. This study assesses how people in Gonaives used remittances both from the Haitian diaspora and from internal sources during and after the city was all but destroyed by the September 2004 hurricane. It is based on information obtained during fieldwork in Gonaives in January 2006, and is supplemented by reports issued by international humanitarian agencies active in the country at the time of the disaster. The findings encompass information from recipients of remittances in Gonaives, but not from the Haitian migrants, either inside or outside of the country, who provided them.

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