Printer-friendly view |

Haiti's earthquake: 5 years on


On 12 January 2010 a deadly earthquake struck Haiti, 16 miles west of its capital Port-au-Prince. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake is estimated to have claimed the lives of up to 160,000 people, displacing over a million and leaving 500,000 without permanent shelter. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the disaster, but is Haiti finally on the road to recovery?

Haiti's earthquake: 5 years on


On 12 January 2010 a deadly earthquake struck Haiti, 16 miles west of its capital Port-au-Prince. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake is estimated to have claimed the lives of up to 160,000 people, displacing over a million and leaving 500,000 without permanent shelter. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the disaster, but is Haiti finally on the road to recovery?



Shaking the unstable

Before the earthquake, Haiti was already one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with over 80% of the population living in poverty. In 2011 a similar magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand’s capital. But unlike in Haiti, there was a full emergency management structure in place within hours of the quake occurring and the country’s strict building regulations had prevented any severe damage. Haiti’s poorly constructed infrastructure was not so lucky.

Tent cities

Those displaced by the earthquake were forced into temporary shelter by the government and international organisations. Some report that tens of thousands of people are still living in these tents, leading to fears that these temporary settlements could soon evolve into more permanent slums. Surprisingly, Port-au-Prince’s slums, such as Cité Soleil, faired relatively well in the earthquake. However, aid was slow to reach their residents, who were already plagued with poverty, crime and disease.

Reconstruction

Over the past few years, Haiti has had to cope with a catastrophic earthquake, an unrelated cholera epidemic, and a collapsing political system. But there are signs of recovery. The rubble has nearly been cleared away (20% of it has been recycled) and government-funded settlements for those who have been displaced are slowly being constructed. However, while billions of dollars of aid have been pledged to Haiti, they have been painfully slow to trickle down to those who need it most.

Did you know?

  • There are 500,000 earthquakes every year but only 100,000 can be felt
  • In 2010 Haiti ranked 145 out of 185 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI)
  • . . . By 2014 this had dropped to 168
  • Teach about this

    geog.2 4th edition Student Book

    In geog.2:

    Chapter 3 of the new edition of geog.2 looks at urbanisation, including life in slums

    geog.3

    In geog.3:

    Chapter 5 of the new edition of geog.3 looks at earthquakes.

    Nelson Key Geography Foundations

    In Foundations:

    Chapter 5 of Nelson Key Geography Foundations includes a section on Nairobi's Kibera slum

    Nelson Key Geography Interactions

    In Interactions:

    Chapter 2 of Nelson Key Geography Interactions looks at earthquakes.