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Geo file
September 2012
Online 672
Sally Garrington
The Haiti Earthquake 2010 ­ A Study
of Vulnerability
On 12 January 2010 an earthquake home from family members abroad, was movement in the Enriquillo-
measuring 7 on the Richter scale which in 2008 formed 32% of the Plantain Garden fault system, in the
of magnitude struck the country of country's GDP . south of the country, that caused the
Haiti, killing over 200,000 people. earthquake which destroyed 60% of
Television footage and journalism In 2004 3,000 people were killed in the country's capital, Port-au-Prince.
immediately after the 'quake and Haiti due to the impact of Tropical The fault had been locked for over
for the next 12 months showed a Storm Jeanne. Four years later in 250 years, but in January 2010 its
country that was not only devastated 2008 Haiti suffered four damaging energy was released along 65 km of
by the disaster, but even one year hurricanes which left a death toll of the fault, causing land movement of
on was only just emerging from the 800 and huge amounts of damage. 1.8 metres. The epicentre was south
emergency phase and after two years 60% of the harvests were destroyed, west of the capital on the peninsula
is just verging on reconstruction. and there were many landslides and affected several other towns
Why was this? which destroyed lives, homes and (Figure 1).
roads. Haiti only has 2% of its land
Haiti is located in the Caribbean and forested (due to deforestation for Why was Haiti so
forms the western part of the island charcoal manufacture, the main
of Hispaniola, with the Dominican fuel of the poor) so is susceptible
Republic on the eastern side (Figure to landslides when the heavy rains Although a Richter Scale 7
1). Being in the western hemisphere, come with hurricanes. earthquake can cause much damage,
one might expect it to have a certain it is not only the magnitude of the
amount of wealth, but in fact Haiti hazard that impacts on the outcome
is one of the poorest countries in Haiti and plate margins within a country. There is a Risk
the world. It has a population of 9.8 As well as being in the direct path Equation, set out below:
million but a gross national income of hurricanes, Haiti sits amongst a
(GNI) of only $660 per person per complex set of plate margins (Figure R = HxV
annum, has high levels of infant 1). Although it can be affected by ­­­­­
mortality and a high incidence of movements of destructive plate C
HIV/AIDS (2.2% of the population margins within the Caribbean, it
aged 15-49, which is a very high is the two conservative strike-slip R=Risk H=Hazard
level).The country is heavily faults on the island itself that cause V=Vulnerability C=Capacity to cope
dependent on the remittances sent most impact. In January 2010 it
Figure 1: Location of Haiti and main plate boundaries; inset shows location of Port au Prince and other towns affected by the
PLATE Caribbean
HAITI Gressier
Mexico Bahamas Léogâne Port au Prince
Cuba Republic
0 50 km Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
Transform (Conservative)
NAZCA PLATE Convergent (Destructive)
0 1000 km Divergent (Constructive)
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September 2012 no.672 The Haiti Earthquake 2010 ­ A Study of Vulnerability
Figure 2: Some of the factors affecting Haiti's vulnerability and capacity to cope systems were in place. Chile is a
much more prosperous country than
Only 50% had access to latrines in Port-au-Prince.
Only 33% had access to clean tap water
Poor building codes.…read more

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September 2012 no.672 The Haiti Earthquake 2010 ­ A Study of Vulnerability
Eventually tents were flown in and should be stressed that some NGOs continued. Another serious problem
up to 1500 camps were set up all were very well run with minimal was that of rape and other sexual
over Port-au-Prince. Sanitation operating costs and servicing a attacks within the camps. Women
arrangements were hopelessly definite need (see Merlin website at and girls were vulnerable as they
inadequate, and the encampments end of unit).…read more

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September 2012 no.672 The Haiti Earthquake 2010 ­ A Study of Vulnerability
better quality now than before the Figure 4: Park's model (or hazard response curve) adapted for Haiti
earthquake, but what will happen
when the NGOs leave? There is a Normality
need for a long-term strategy. Many
of the survivors are traumatised Jan 12th Planning for future
is underway.…read more


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