Haiti 10 years later - Learning to live with risks

Report
from UN Development Programme
Published on 12 Jan 2020

Looking back, UNDP Haiti reports on a decade of efforts alongside Haiti communities and government institutions to learn from and use disaster risk management tools, to better prevent the consequences of seismic risks and other natural hazards. This publication (in French) coincides with the 10th commemoration of the Haiti earthquake on 12 January. Ten years on, Haiti continues to draw on its resources to recover and learn to live with the risks.

Port-au-Prince, 12 January - The 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 is sadly remembered as one of the worst disasters globally in the past decade. In Port-au-Prince, the country's capital and most populous commune, 35 seconds were enough to claim the lives of more than 220,000 people, injure 300,000 and leave more than a million homeless. About 100,000 homes were completely destroyed, and 190,000 collapsed or were severely damaged.

In 2010, the destruction of buildings and infrastructure generated an amount of debris estimated at 10 million cubic meters blocking the streets. Macroeconomic damage amounted to some US$7.8 billion, or 120 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2009, wiping out decades of efforts and investment to put the country on a development path.

From collecting debris to district rehabilitation

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners mobilized immediately after the humanitarian response to support the management of debris and the reconstruction of devastated quarters in the capital.

Achievements:

  • Over 1 million cubic meters of debris removed
  • Over 240,000 people – of which 40% women - deprived of livelihoods employed for the task
  • 1,000 families in six camps were able to return to 16 districts of origin
  • 11,000 families relocated to safer areas
  • 4 km of roads and 5 community centers rehabilitated
  • Support to the creation of small and micro-enterprises contributing to restart the local economy

Disaster risk management

Haiti has experienced more than 100 natural disasters since 1909, including 40 hurricanes and storms, 47 floods, seven droughts and two major earthquakes, aggravating the recurring poverty of the population. Two years after the 2010 earthquake, nearly 6.3 million out of 11 million in total were unable to meet their basic needs and 2.5 million were hungry.

From 2010 to 2020, UNDP stepped up efforts to help Haiti build resilience to trauma and crises due to natural hazards based on the knowledge of risk and approaches to disaster preparedness, disaster recovery, and to community resilience.

UNDP is proud to have signed memoranda of understanding with the State University of Haiti and the National Center for Geospatial Information on disaster risk management and supported the Government in its capacity to prevent and manage future disasters; or to have assessed the vulnerability of constructions and simulated socio-economic losses in the event of an earthquake in three main cities in the North and 50 public establishments.

Eighteen risk prevention plans now exist in priority districts of Port-au-Prince and in the North and Northeast, while four departments and 53 municipalities are covered by multi-risk maps. A Methodological Guide to the reduction of natural risks in urban areas, tested in a pilot application with the Department of Grand'Anse, is available for practitioners of disaster risk management. These actions have been possible thanks to a continuous partnership with the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation, the Ministry of the Interior and Local Authorities and the Directorate of Civil Protection.

There is no quick or easy solution to help millions of people recovering from the aftermath of such a devastating event in a country already vulnerable. Disasters exacerbate poverty, inequality, governance issues and environmental degradation.

SDG 11

It is time to break the vicious circle of recurrent crises due to natural hazards by establishing a continuity between life-saving emergency response and investing in recovery and development, in order to continue and help Haiti communities live or relive with dignity as quickly as possible - a long-term goal shared by all.

UNDP works tirelessly within the United Nations system and alongside development partners, Government and civil society to risk reduction, management and disaster recovery in line with the Goals of Sustainable Development (SDG), in particular the Goal 11. which aims to ensure that cities and human settlements are open to all, safe, resilient and sustainable.