Paper Example on Rebuilding a Nation After the Haiti Earthquake Disaster

Published: 2023-01-21
Paper Example on Rebuilding a Nation After the Haiti Earthquake Disaster
Type of paper:  Term paper
Categories:  Disaster
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1685 words
15 min read


Haiti earthquake forms one of the greatest disasters of our time. The earthquake hit the country on January 12 in the year 2010 (Best & Burke, 2017). The quake affected several areas of the country, comprising the country's capital city. It was focused roughly 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince with a magnitude of 7.0 (Best & Burke, 2017). A succession of robust aftershocks tailed it.

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Studies estimate that the tremor triggered about $8 to $14 billion in destruction (Best & Burke, 2017). Almost a third of the population was impacted by the quake and almost 3 million people, approximately one-third of the entire population were affected by the tremor with more than 1.2 million being displaced and living in displacement camps to date (Best & Burke, 2017). Reports from the government showed that the estimated death toll came to about 230,000 people, and another 300,000 people were fatally injured (Best & Burke, 2017). The then President of Haiti described the disaster as unimaginable, and the country appealed for international assistance to mitigate the effects of the earthquake. The disaster has been a significant setback to the country's development. One of the report's authors, economist Andrew Powell, said that "This disaster, given the size of Haiti is the most devastating catastrophe that a country has experienced possibly ever" (Best & Burke, 2017). The report likened the destruction to former calamities, finding, for example, that the earthquake's harm resulted to 117% of Haiti's yearly economic output, whereas the 2004 tsunami destruction summed to 2% of Indonesia's annual economic production (Best & Burke, 2017).

Recovery from the disaster was not an easy process noting that the country suffered significant infrastructure damage. Loss of employees that form part of the recovery process made the efforts even more difficult. Many Haitian government and U.N. officials were among the dead and the missing (Best & Burke, 2017). Explicitly, the Presidential Palace, as well as his private collapsed and the private residence, was also destroyed (Best & Burke, 2017). The Parliament building also collapsed. Worse still, some members were trapped inside, and others killed. Also, the Ministries of Finance, Public Works, and Justice buildings were damaged or destroyed (Best & Burke, 2017). Hospitals which could be able to provide emergency care to victims also collapsed, causing an increase in the death toll. Most transportation routes were blocked, and others damaged. For instance, the Port Au Prince Airport control tower was ruined (Best & Burke, 2017). Though the airport continued to operate, the air traffic control was moved to U.S. personnel with portable radar. Routine flights did not resume until February 18, 2010. Reports show that flights into Haiti dropped from an average of 160 flights a day to around 75. Further, the delivery of essential services such as electricity and water, were disrupted. The country's economic status, which was already in a bad state, was gravely deteriorated (Best & Burke, 2017).

Pre-disaster Conditions

Before the 2010 earthquake, the last significant earthquake experience in Haiti was in 1860(Doocy, Jacquet, Cherewick & Kirsch, 2013). The country had, therefore not much concern for earthquakes as a disaster. The country was in the initial phases of developing a strategy and increasing its capacity for disaster response and management. These efforts were in conjunction with the World Bank and others and were aimed at mainly managing Hurricanes which were the most prevalent source of natural tragedies on the island (Doocy, Jacquet, Cherewick & Kirsch, 2013).

Several other disasters had hit Haiti island in the years before the 2010 earthquake disaster. They are as follows; Floods which were experienced in May 2002, Tropical Storm Jean/Floods in September 2004, Floods in November 2006, Hurricane Dean in August 2007, Hurricane Felix in September 2007, Tropical Storm Noel in October 2007, and Hurricane Gustav and Ike and Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna in September 2008 (Doocy, Jacquet, Cherewick & Kirsch, 2013).

The country is ranked as one of the underprivileged countries in the world, given its predisposal to natural disasters, which in turn cause economic shocks (Doocy, Jacquet, Cherewick & Kirsch, 2013). Most of the country's population, (54%) of 9.8 million populaces, lives in adverse poverty (Doocy, Jacquet, Cherewick & Kirsch, 2013). They survive on less than $1 a day; 78% live on $2 or less a day, according to the World Bank. Those living in rural areas exhibit higher poverty levels: 69% of rural dwellers survive on less than $1 a day, and 86% live on less than $2 a day. (Doocy, S, Jacquet, Cherewick, & Kirsch, 2013)

Hunger is prevalent. About 81% of the countrywide inhabitants and 87% of the rural inhabitants fail to attain the minimum daily portion of food defined by the World Health Organization (Best & Burke, 2017). Studies show that in remote parts of Haiti, children die of malnutrition. Over the past40 years, Haiti's per capita real GDP has dropped by 30 %(Best & Burke, 2017). There had been some economic growth in the country since 2004. Economic growth for FY2007 was 3.2%, which was the highest rate since the 1990s (Best & Burke, 2017). Earlier, the forecasted growth for FY2009-20010 was 2.5%, indicating the impact of current storms and the universal economic crisis, and up to 3.5% for and up to 3.5% for 2010-2011 (Best & Burke, 2017). The worldwide financial crisis also contributed to a fall of roughly 10% in remittances from Haitians abroad, which in 2008 summed up to nearly $1.65 billion, greater than a fourth of Haiti's yearly income (Best & Burke, 2017). The situation is made worse by the fact that there is a huge income disparity in Haiti. Over 68% of the nation's income is accrued to 20% of the population who are the wealthy class, whereas less than 1.5% of Haiti's national income is accrued by the unfortunate 20% of the population (Best & Burke, 2017). According to the World Bank, "where the level of inequality is high, it is almost impossible for the capacity of economic growth to reduce poverty" (Best & Burke, 2017).

Following the 2008 hurricanes in Haiti, the U.N. secretary General commissioned a report that endorsed a strategy that would assist the country in moving Haiti from recovery from natural disasters to economic security. Certainly, the U.N. Security Council led a fact-finding official visit to Haiti in March 2009, and resolved that there was "a window of opportunity to enable the consolidation of stability and the undertaking of a process of sustainable development." (Best & Burke, 2017).

Politically, the country was being led by President Preval, who was in his second (non-consecutive) five-year term as President of Haiti (Best & Burke, 2017). The President established some internal stability politically in the first three years of his term. His government rolled out their National Strategy for Growth in 2007, which was aimed at meeting IMF necessities for debt relief and met the requirements in June 2009(Best & Burke, 2017). The security conditions of the country improved upon arrival of MINUSTAH into the country in 2004 which strengthened the country's police force capacity. However, there were political tensions arising ahead of Parliamentary elections slated for February 28 and March 3, 2010. President Preval had exited his prior political movement to form another, causing political tension in the country (Best & Burke, 2017).

Post Disaster Conditions

The Haitian Government had significant challenges trying to respond to the disaster, primarily due to the damage caused by the transport infrastructure and the logistical challenges. The Haitian government, therefore, had a limited capacity and resources to adequately respond to the disaster (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010). In the view of the magnitude of the disaster, the President appealed to International assistance.

The United Nations, despite having suffered massive loss from the earthquake, had an excellent response to the disaster. In 24 hours of the quake, the United States began arraying search and rescue groups along with support personnel, search and rescue canines and rescue equipment, from Fairfax, VA, Los Angeles, and Miami. USAID/OFDA also came up with a 32-member Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010). The team was concerned with evaluating humanitarian needs, placing emergency relief materials and directing aid with the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, the government of Haiti, and the International Community (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010).

The first few weeks after the earthquake, the efforts of international; community were majorly attentive on the search and rescue aid, addressing the dire need for food, clean water and sanitation, medical aid, and emergency shelter; and setting up critical infrastructure and logistics operations (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010).

Among the significant issues that arose was the management of incidences of looting and violence that was the aftermath of the earthquake (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010). This may have been caused by the escape of prisoners from jails and correction facilities. About 5,000 prison inmates escaped from prisons during the earthquake (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010). There were rape cases reported in camps, fake tolls along roads and roadblocks, and other possible gang activities associated to drugs and other crimes theme to participation by some of the criminals. The U.N. and government officials urged Haitians to turn in run-away criminals while concentrating on detailed security interventions targeted on their recapture (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010).

The United Nations established Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) teams (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010). The UNDAC team coordinated the Onsite Operations and Coordination Center (OSOCC). Two sub-OSOCCs were established in Jacmel and Leogane to assist local authorities (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010).

In the weeks succeeding the tremor, OCHA aided to direct the search and rescue teams. Besides working diligently with the government of Haiti, OCHA was the principal agency working with people on the ground, harmonizing with the military and soliciting donor support (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010). In cooperation with MINUSTAH and international military forces, OCHA established a Joint Operations Tasking Centre (JOTC) which started operating on January 26 and concentrated on civil-military coordination and logistics. The OCHA Civil-Military Coordination (CMCoord) team first convened on January 31, connecting civil-military points of contact from humanitarian organizations, MINUSTAH, and international military forces (Margesson & Taft-Morales, 2010).

The country also received financial aid from other foreign governments. For example, the European Union pledged EUR330 million for emergency and long-term assistance, whereas Brazil pledged R$375 million for long-term recovery aid. Out of this fund, R$25 million was to be in instant funds. The United Kingdom devoted L.20 million in funding, while France assured EUR10 million. Italy publicized a waiver on repayment of the EUR40 million previously loaned to Haiti, and the World Bank rejected the country's debt repayments for five years.

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