Fuel Shortages and Doubling of Prices Exacerbate Haitian Troubles

Unlike Florida, Haiti was fortunately spared the wrath of Hurricane Dorian. Similar to Florida before Dorian threatened, Haiti is suffering from a fuel shortage, a rapidly worsening fuel shortage having nothing to do with hurricanes. The recent doubling of fuel prices is making travel within the country even more difficult. Gasoline, which normally sells for about 224 gourdes ($2.33) per gallon, has increased to 500 gourdes ($5.20) in some areas. As reported recently in Agence France-Presse (AFP), “`The Haitian state does not have the economic means to pay its debts to the companies that import gasoline to the country,’ the source said on the condition of anonymity. `And for us, when we don't have money, we can't place orders.’” The AFP report continues, “Venezuela's PetroCaribe program, plagued by allegations of corruption but which had allowed Haiti to buy petroleum products more cheaply and on credit, has been suspended for more than a year…”

This most recent struggle in Haiti affects virtually everyone there. Daily transportation relies on cars, trucks, busses, and motorcycles. All travel in Haiti is agonizingly time-consuming given traffic congestion, especially in urban areas such as Port-au-Prince, and extremely poor road conditions. To get from the Airport in Port-au-Prince to the Dumay Clinic, a distance of under 7.5 miles as the crow flies, takes from 45 minutes on a good day to over an hour and a half on bad ones. Due to the wretched roads and long drive times, HAM’s 2014 Toyota Hilux truck purchased new in Haiti has required on average over $1,000 per month in repairs for well over a year.

Fortunately, both the Dumay Clinic and the Charles Solomon School in Port-de-Paix are entirely powered our from solar collection and storage systems.  Haiti’s electrical grid is expensive and unreliable on a daily basis so any group requiring a reliable source of power in Haiti must be able to produce their own, most often from a generator.  At HAM, we planned from the beginning to never rely on fossil fuels for our daily operations – they are costly, often difficult to obtain, and contribute to climate change.  Solar power fills our needs reliably and cost effectively.  Unfortunately, our operations in Haiti require ground transportation for most supplies and some personal, so for that we remain dependent on the instability of the fuel pump. 

Now let’s hope Haiti makes it through hurricane season without a new disaster to address.