January 11, 2011

The 2010 Haiti Earthquake - One Year Later

"The humanitarian response undertaken in Haiti after the earthquake that struck on 12 January 2010 has been one of the most complex ever. However, as the first anniversary of the quake approaches, the Haitian state, together with the international community, is making little progress in reconstruction." -Oxfam International
Photo's Courtesy of Wiki


Richter Scale photo from this Blog

On January 12th 2010, the Island Nation of Haiti was struck by a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The country, which was already poverty stricken- was severely damaged by the earthquake. In the weeks following Haiti was hit by 54 aftershocks that destroyed any buildings that remained standing after the original quake.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located just outside of Léogâne- which is only sixteen miles away from Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince. In the months after the devastating earthquake many Countries donated relief and recovery funds, and lent crews to help in the rescue efforts. One year later and the country lays in a standstill, with only 2-4% of the rubble being removed. Most Haitians, to this day still reside in makeshift tents and camps created in the weeks following the earthquake.

According to the Red Cross, three million Haitians were affected by the massive earthquake. The Haitian government also estimated that approximately 230,00 people had died, another 300,000 injured and at least 1,000,000 made homeless. The Prime Minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive, also stated that 250,000 homes were destroyed- as well as 30,000 businesses lost.

Oxfam International, a company who's job is to find solutions to poverty and injustice, released it's Relief to Recovery report(cite) this week citing the many problems facing Haiti now. Oxfam summarized this report also listing recommendations to help Haiti speed up the pace of their recovery.

Oxfam International Summary

PORT-AU-PRINCE – In a report released today, international agency Oxfam called on the Haitian authorities, with support from the international community, to move forward on plans to start rebuilding the shattered country and enable close to one million people still living in tents and under tarpaulins to resettle or return home.

The report, “From Relief to Recovery“, blames a lack of progress on a crippling combination of Haitian government indecision, rich donor countries’ too frequent pursuit of their own aid priorities, and a lacklustre Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was established to coordinate reconstruction efforts and build state capacity.

Roland Van Hauwermeiren, country director for Oxfam in Haiti said:
“This has been a year of indecision and it has put Haiti’s recovery on hold. Nearly one million people are still living in tents or under tarpaulins and hundreds of thousands of others who are living in the city’s ruins still do not know when they will be able to return home.

“Rebuilding this shattered country will not happen overnight, but there are key decisions on jobs, clearing rubble, house repairs and allocating land for people who will not be able to return to their homes that can and must be made urgently. We now need the incoming government of Haiti to take its leadership role. The international community, including NGOs, must unite to support the government so that Haitian authorities will have a chance of succeeding.”

Despite the success of emergency lifesaving aid after last year’s earthquake, long-term recovery from the disaster has barely begun. Public donations as well as funding from donor governments and multilateral institutions for the emergency aid effort were exceptionally generous. However, of the $2.1 billion pledged by governments for reconstruction in 2010, only 42 percent had been given by the end of the year according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti.

“Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities and have not effectively coordinated amongst themselves or worked with the Haitian government. This seriously weakens the government’s ability to plan and deliver on its sovereign responsibility – to lead reconstruction,” Van Hauwermeiren said.

Most donors provided funds for transitional housing but very little money for clearing rubble or repairing houses. One year on, only five percent of the rubble has been cleared and only 15 percent of the required basic and temporary houses have been built. House building on a large scale cannot be started before the enormous amount of rubble is cleared. The government and donors must prioritize this most basic step toward helping people return home.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, led by former US President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, was set up in April 2010 to facilitate the flow of funds toward reconstruction projects and to help Haitian ministries with implementation. So far, the Commission has failed to live up to its mandate. Many Haitian officials still do not have the technical ability to lead projects, and almost no major reconstruction projects have started. The Commission is a key element for reconstruction and it must cut through the quagmire of indecision and delay.

Despite the current political crisis Haiti’s political and economic elites still have a once in a lifetime chance to address many of the issues that have held back the country’s development. But the process must start now.

“If Haitians are to support themselves then the reconstruction effort must also give priority to helping people earn a living. Above all else, Haitians want to get back to work and provide for their families. They aren’t asking for charity, but for a chance to be part of the process to rebuild their own country. After going through so much last year, Haitians deserve that chance,” Van Hauwermeiren said.

One year on, Oxfam is providing aid to over one million people as part of two emergency responses: one for earthquake relief and one to respond to the cholera epidemic that has swept the country since October, killing over 2,600 people.

Oxfam International Recommendations

The new Haitian government should:

Show real political leadership and urgency in reconstructing the country, including by developing a public works program that creates jobs and builds skills; supporting homeless families to return or resettle in appropriate locations; implementing social protection programs such as cash transfer and micro-credit programs; and investing in agriculture and Haitian businesses; Put measures in place to reduce corruption and improve accountability, and speed up the decentralization of power to local authorities.

International donor governments, the UN, and international NGOs should:

Work far more closely and effectively with the Haitian authorities, reinforcing their capacity and working to improve the performance of ministries;

Donors should release funds promised at the New York conference in March 2010 and improve transparency related to pledges and disbursements. They should co-operate much more closely with each other and should harmonize policies and priorities;

Major stakeholders, including Bill Clinton, should urgently review the workings of the IHRC and speed up delivery of its mandate.

The Haitian authorities, donor governments, the UN, and international NGOs should:

Consult, communicate and effectively involve Haitian citizens in the reconstruction of their country and ensure recovery programs reflect their priority needs.

Well, honestly I expected a lot more then what I found when researching/writing this post. I knew that Haiti couldn't be rebuilt in one week like they do on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, but I expected more then this. It's saddening thinking about what Haitians have to deal with on a daily basis, and than factoring in a catastrophic earthquake- there aren't really words for that feeling.

On a lighter note, surpassing every statistic in the book, a young girl- by the name of Darlene Etienne, survived the earthquake in an astonishing way. Darlene was buried for fifteen days, surrounded by concrete and steel, in a city of ruins. Most search teams had given up hope by the 27th of January- but than against all odds- someone heard a whisper calling for help. A French rescue team dug her out in front of hundreds of stunned onlookers.

A year later, Darlene Etienne is a 17 year old smiling girl living in Artibonite Valley with extended family.



P.F.S. You can find more information on donating to Haiti by clicking here.

xoxo disaster girl


  1. I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I do not know who you are but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if
    you aren't already ;) Cheers!

    Also visit my web page - Cincinnati pest control

  2. Survival guides: Twenty-six tips to help you survive during earthquake and after an earthquake https://www.patriotdirect.org/survival-guides-twenty-six-tips-to-help-you-survive-during-earthquake-and-after-an-earthquake/

  3. It is without a doubt that the government and other humanitarian bodies will come to the aid of earthquake victims, but you must be prepared to be able to handle the aftermath. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake was a big tragedy, but it’s a wakeup call to anyone who hasn’t prepared for natural disasters. Learn how to do so here: http://survival-mastery.com/basics/how-to-survive-an-earthquake.html