Haiti Earthquake- Causes of Vulnerability

The temperature had been 28 degrees celsius average, with 137cm of rainfall average each year. This climate means that soil is often damp and therefore prone to moving easily.

The Caribbean plate moved east while the North American plate moved west. A large movement in the north section of the Caribbean plate occurred, causing the earthquake. Rocks break when the tension is released, which is what then causes the damage.

The earthquake was shallow, and the plates hadn’t shifted for years. The plate boundary ran through the capital, Port au Prince.

The epicenter was very close to Port au Prince, while the focus was not far underground.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, so was ill equiped for this situation. Building quality was awful- and they lacked infrastructure. They had poor architecture, and many buildings were made of low quality concrete blocks.Roo

Roofs easily collapsed, trapping people underneath. Many houses were on slopes, causing slips.

Haiti Earthquake- Short Term Impacts

The earthquake happened on the 12th of June 2010.

  • 1/3 of the buildings collapsed it the capital.
  • 200,000 people died.
  • 1/4 of a million people injured.
  • 1.3 million homeless
  • 300,000 buildings collapsed
  • Water, communications and electricity networks were all damaged
  • Little food or water available.
  • A million people forced to sleep in the streets
  • Billions of dollars worth of damage caused

Haiti Earthquake – Long Term Impacts

Due to knowledge that future quakes are likely to occur, various measures have had to be put into places.

Earthquake simulations are run to see the panic which would occur in the real situation. People can practice organising emergency services for the situation. They are also to see how children react. Lots of screaming and running around.

The emergency services are being trained to act as best they can, by staying calm instead of running around, for instance.

The earthquake has had the greatest effect on the poor long term.

Even before the earthquake, there were large inequalities. The earthquake worsened this.

Half of the population was below the poverty line; after the earthquake, this rose to 80%.

Haiti Earthquake- Long Term Management

Building resilience and Future capacity

Some people have had to spend 3 years in their camps. They had:

  • No money to build

NGOs helped the local people by:

  • Improving financial support for rebuilding
  • Improving infrastructure
  • Training stonemasons to make future settlements stronger
  • Building new settlements on outskirts

The relocated people would have had to still pay rent for housing had the refugee camps not been set up; the camps helped provide shelter for those who would not have been able to afford this in their current financial situation.

In the refugee camps, people had to travel to work. Often the fees of transport were so expensive that people could spend more money travelling to and fro between work and the camps than they would earn. So, many people had taken to just sleeping rough outside their offices during the week and only coming home at weekends.

There were toilets in the camps so there was one between every five families. One of the main aims of the new buildings was to remove this issue.

  • Have to travel to work
  • Spaced out buildings
  • No heavy tiles
  • Use local technology so homes can be fixed by local people.
  • Buildings were built with plenty of open spaces, so people can get away from falling buildings more quickly.
  • Buildings have only a few storeys, so there’s less to collapse in during future quakes, and also have timber frames, which are more flexible, so less likely to collapse in a future earthquake.
  • Lightweight structures, and only using light weight tiles means that if anything collapses in the future, it will be less damaging to anybody around.

 

 

Creditors died with the earthquake

  • Businesses have to be reset up again
  • Oxfam helped with this:
  • Financial security to support many businesses
  • Monthly allowances

Most food was imported.

Oxfam was trialing different techniques in Haiti to get good crop growth. Oxfam funded small rice mills to get a better price at the market for farmers. Unprocessed rice is worth far less, so by allowing the rice mills to be more available, farmers can get more profits, allowing rural areas to support themselves better in the aftermath. With more rice mills, it is overall cheaper to use them.

Profits from mills help pay for drainage channels which increase yield again. This is an overall positive multiplier effect.

Land reform is a necessary feature of the rebuilding. Before the earthquake, unclear laws on land ownership meant that when the earthquake hit, camps had to be built in poor sites as the owners could not be tracked down and asked permission to use any land closer to the capital. Most of the land is only claimed by a few people, and overall this makes it hard to make long term investments. Companies and investors want a guaranteed pay out, which they can’t get from the unclear laws as it was.