Significant earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides in Haiti’s past demonstrate what will certainly happen again, and the urgency to reduce risk today. Between 2000 and 2019, natural disasters took more lives in Haiti (per million people) than in any other country.
A 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake near Port-au-Prince killed about 2% of the population. A major fault off the north coast could rupture, and send tsunami waves within minutes to devastate densely populated Cap-Haitien, as happened in 1842.
Hospitals were crippled after the 2010 earthquake due to building damages and lack of emergency training.
Over 35% of schools were damaged or destroyed in three recent events--the 2008 tropical cyclones and floods, the 2010 earthquake, and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Protecting such facilities from disaster damages could ensure unbroken access to health care and education and opportunity. More than half of the population live below the national poverty line, and nearly 50% of the population is under the age of 19.
Haiti is an island nation. Tropical storms and hurricanes each year cause widespread flooding and landslides. Climate change and deforestation are intensifying these events. Coastal communities face risk from storm surge, coastal erosion, and sea level rise. Solutions such as climate change adaptations and measures to protect the environment will also protect coastal and agricultural livelihoods.
While facing many challenges, Haitians are taking steps to build disaster resilience. The government’s National Risk and Disaster Management Plan 2019-2030 takes into account Haiti’s context of multi-risk, recurring events, and climate change.
GeoHazards International in Haiti: Haitian staff members have been working in Cap-Haïtien in the North since 2013, and Anse-á-Veau in the South since 2016. One program reaches out to families, through trusted networks and in plain language, to inform about local risk and motivate actions to prepare. Other efforts focus on resilient school infrastructure, youth engagement in community safety activities, and hospital emergency training.