Haiti: two years after the earthquake

Folks in the metro Washington D.C. area (yours truly included) got all bent out of shape back in August 2011 over a few earth tremors that caused minimal problems.

Folks in Haiti are still literally bent out of shape, exactly two years since a 35-second-long earthquake ruptured the already struggling Caribbean nation and laid bare the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

Consider the reality of life in Port-au-Prince:

  • The United Nations and other aid agencies have characterized the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti as the largest urban disaster in modern history. The earthquake affected an estimated 3 million people, including 1.5 million people displaced to 1,300 settlement sites throughout Port-au-Prince. One of the biggest challenges has been to provide shelter to those who lost their houses.
  • Homelessness and displacement are standard fare for more than half a million Haitians still holed up in tarps and tents and exposed to all sorts of threats to life and safety.
AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery
  • Incredibly, some displacement camps have been raided and destroyed by Haitian authorities in an effort to close them.
  • Despite the billions of dollars pledged at the March 2010 International Donors Conference in New York for Haiti’s reconstruction, the country and its people, particularly in Port-au-Prince, continue to languish under nightmarish conditions.
  • Thousands of young Haitian children have yet to be reunited with their parents since the earthquake.
AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery
  • A cholera outbreak that began in 2010 has taken more than 6,000 Haitian lives, complicating what was already a bleak outlook for the country.
  • Haiti narrowly missed a direct hit by Hurricane Tomas in November 2010 but fell victim to massive flooding that put a greater strain on Haitians and potentially worsened the cholera outbreak.
  • Several rounds of contentious elections consumed the country in 2010 and 2011, with Michel Martelly emerging as the new President of Haiti and taking office in May 2011.
  • And as if all of the above wasn’t enough, low-intensity tremors were felt in the Haitian capital on January 4 and 5, just shy of a week from the second anniversary of the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

What are your thoughts on the post-earthquake state of affairs in Haiti?  How do you plan to do to contribute to Haiti’s development in light of the earthquake?


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