Article #12 Emergency Preparedness in Haiti: How Can It Improve?

Three major natural disasters in Haiti (The 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Hurricane Matthew during 2016 and Hurricane Maria in 2017) over the past several years have again signified to the international community that the country needs significant support to improve its infrastructure and preparation for such catastrophic events in the future.

Haiti has extremely poor governance and political leadership and corruption is commonplace The county also has severe famine, broken and aging infrastructure, a terrible education system, a struggling economy, very poor sanitation facilities and an ongoing health-care crisis among other issues.

These factors are the main reasons why the nation has a long way to go to change its terrible  emergency preparedness record. It is absolutely crucial that the global community continues to help Haiti’s progress in this regard. Without international help the situation will deteriorate to unthinkable levels.

The devastation of the earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and several hurricanes during 2017 showed that not nearly enough has been done to change the dire circumstances that the Haitian people live with everyday. As referenced by the CIA world factbook, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti caused about 7.8 billion dollars in damages and caused the nations GDP to fall substantially almost immediately. Haiti is currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere it is also estimated by the CIA world factbook to have almost 60% of its residents living under the poverty line.

During the 2010 Haiti earthquake it is estimated that between 159,000 and 316,000 people lost their lives. Although some estimates suggest the number was about 100,000 the fact remains that this was a severe humanitarian tragedy. The US Geological Societies data compiled from official estimates also states that over 300,000 people were injured while a total of about 1.3 million citizens became displaced as a result of the earthquake.

One of the challenges that made the earthquake so difficult to respond to because most of the infrastructure in Port-au-Prince, including the 3 main hospitals, all transportation infrastructure and communication systems failed. This made it very challenging to mobilize equipment and man-power to treat and rescue the wounded and to remove the dead. Hence, international emergency relief was called in from the US and around the world.

 

Hurricane Matthew encapsulates Haiti during October, 2016. (Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)
Citizens of Port-au-Prince, Haiti take cover 4 days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January, 12th 2010. The earthquake killed between 100 and 316 thousand people in the region. (Photo Credit: US Department of National Defense via Wikimedia Commons)
Food aid arrives in Haiti after the impact of Hurricane Matthew during October 2016. (Photo Credit: The 621st Contingency Response Wing via Flickr)