Haiti's Earthquake 10 Years Later
January 12, 2020, marked the 10th anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, the capital of the small Caribbean nation of Haiti. People have taken time to remember what happened a decade ago, with one Haitian-American residing in Boston commenting, “I’m in pain. I’m in pain inside of me. Even my bones hurt me because of what’s happening in my country. We are human beings like everybody else, we have to live a life like everybody else.” Haiti has undeniably suffered greatly, but there is hope after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later.

The Devastating Aftermath of the Disaster

The quake also impacted Haiti’s neighboring country, the Dominican Republic. Two aftershocks followed with a magnitude of 5.9 and 5.5., making it the worst natural disaster the country has seen in modern times. Haiti is located above two of the earth’s tectonic plates, the North American and the Caribbean plates, making it prone to large earthquakes. At the beginning of 2010, many news outlets covered the aftermath of the disaster, leaving much of the world shocked.

Between 220,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives in the 2010 quake, 122 of them American citizens, leaving 300,000 more injured and 1.5 million displaced from their homes. Nearly 4,000 schools suffered damage or complete eradication. This resulted in an estimated $7.8 to $8.5 billion in damage.

The disaster left many people with families living in Haiti anxious, wondering if their loved ones had survived the catastrophe. Others fled the country in search of a better life elsewhere. Jean-Max Bellerive, the Prime Minister of Haiti at the time of the earthquake called it “the worst catastrophe that has occurred in Haiti in two centuries.”

Foreign Aid Comes to the Rescue

In the midst of what seemed like the absence of hope, many Haitians prayed for help. Within a few days, foreign powers from all over the world responded, willing to aid the survivors with their needs. Within a day, President Obama stated that the United States would provide their “unwavering support” for the people of Haiti pledging $100 million in financial support.

Members of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy arrived in the country to assist the survivors of the earthquake with their medical needs. Outside of the United States, the European Commission promised $4.37 million in aid. In Asia, the South Korean and Indian governments provided $1 million in aid, and the Japanese government granted $5 million. Japan also donated a total of $330,000 value in tents and blankets for those without shelter.

Doctors and aircrafts supplied with food and water swarmed in quickly from countries such as Sweden, Brazil, Israel and Venezuela. It seemed as if the entire world had its eyes on Haiti. People all across the globe prayed for the relief Haitians needed to rebuild their lives and recover from such a traumatic event.

Haiti 10 Years Later

Despite the overwhelming efforts from foreign powers across the world in the aftermath of the earthquake, the earthquake has impacted Haiti even 10 years later. While the world has still not forgotten the 2010 earthquake, relief efforts often diminish because there are more recent natural disasters that require attention. When remembering the anniversary of such events, especially ones that occurred in impoverished nations, it is important to remember that relief efforts should not cease once mass media outlets elect to move on to new events.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with about eight out of every 10 citizens living in poverty. Six years after the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew affected Haiti in early October 2016, the most powerful storm to affect the country in decades and resulting in almost $2 billion in damage.

In the 2000s, hurricanes like but not exclusive to Hurricanes Ike and Hanna, also affected Haiti resulting in flooding and hundreds of lives lost. Haiti’s economy is highly susceptible as a result of its location and the possibility of earthquakes and hurricanes. Because each disaster results in such high costs in damage when a majority of its people already live on only $2 a day, this poses a significant problem in providing a long-term solution for Haitians in need.

As of January 2020, many Haitian children face malnutrition due to high levels of food insecurity and infections, resulting in the deaths of infants, ages 2 and under. Many mothers also still face complications in childbirth resulting in death.

Much of these statistics do not appear to be promising on the surface, appearing as it virtually nothing has changed in a decade despite support from foreign powers during the country’s time of need. However, Haitians still refuse to discard their efforts for a better and more prosperous Haiti. In 2019, many Haitians protested the government and President Jovenel Moise. Haitians say that while citizens are “used to political and economic crises,” the cost of necessities such as food, gas and education has gone up significantly. These protests have continued into January 2020.

Reach Our World and the World Bank

Others around the world have also not given up on their efforts to create a stronger Haiti, even after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later. Reach Our World is one of the missionary groups that visited Port Au Prince shortly after the 10th anniversary of the quake from January 17 to 22, 2020. As of January 8, 2020, ongoing contributions from the World Bank, consisting of 20 projects, have grossed $866.46 million.

Therefore, while the mass media outlets do not commonly cover the continuing political and economic tensions existing after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later, many advocacy groups and world powers have not forgotten about the work that the world still needs to accomplish to help further the nation and its people. In order to become more successful in such efforts, it is imperative to be consistent and not wait until another natural disaster strikes to contribute to relief efforts so that the people of Haiti can achieve a stronger and brighter future.

A. O’Shea
Photo: Flickr

worst earthquakes and the human toll
While the death toll and size of an earthquake can provide logistical data, other factors influence the devastation victims face and the rate they can recover. For communities already struggling, these disasters can be particularly devastating. Ranked below are the 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll of each.

15 Worst Earthquakes

  1. Haiti (2010): At the top of the list of 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll, Haiti suffered an initial 7.0 magnitude quake followed by two aftershocks killing 316,000 people. Due to a lack of adequate reinforcement, buildings across the country crumbled. A loss of power and phone lines interfered with efforts to provide aid. After nine years, Haiti still attempts to repair itself.
  2.  Nepal (2015): After crumbling landmarks and 10-story buildings, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake added landslides and avalanches to its path of destruction. An estimated 9,000 citizens died and 22,000 more suffered injuries. More than 600,000 people lost homes and began facing extreme poverty. However, its government and humanitarian organizations responded quickly. Temporary education centers and shelters helped the displaced, and over the last three years, facilities are recovering.
  3. Sumatra, Indonesia (2004): The 9.1 magnitude disaster in the Indian Ocean produced severe casualties and devastation. The earthquake itself likely killed 1,000 but the tsunami that followed left 227,898 dead or missing. Because of the short time span between the earthquake and tsunami, no one could create separate death tolls. Indonesia had damages of $4.4 million.
  4. Sichuan, China (2008): Whole villages lay flattened after a massive 7.9 quake. Schools and other facilities collapsed, trapping people inside. Estimates determined there were around 90,000 dead, 5,300 of them being children attending class. Buildings injured an estimated 375,000 more citizens and rescue teams attempted to find missing children after the chaos.
  5. Tohoku, Japan (2011): An unfortunate 15,703 deaths occurred after an earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast of Japan. The total economic loss racked up to $309 billion to provide reconstruction and services. A nuclear power plant near Okuma suffered damages to its reactors, causing a radiation leak. Thanks to evacuation efforts, the leak did not harm anyone. Several fires occurred after and the event destroyed docks.
  6. Izmit, Turkey (1999): Lasting less than a minute, an earthquake striking southeast Izmit left 17,000 dead and 500,000 homeless. Thousands of buildings and an oil refinery were among the destruction. There was a large outcry of people persecuting contractors for their poor workmanship and their use of cheap materials. Authorities found very few of them guilty, however. The 7.4 magnitude earthquake caused an estimated $3 to 6.5 billion in damages.
  7. Rudbar, Iran (1990): A 20,000 square mile earthquake devastated homes and farms at midnight. An estimated 50,000 people died and 135,000 injured, some living in simple houses that lacked support. An aftershock the following day caused a dam to burst, adding to financial losses and further loss of farmland. Estimates determined that the reconstruction of the region cost $7.2 billion.
  8. Kashmir, Pakistan (2005): Kashmir, the disputed area between India and Pakistan, suffered a loss of 80,000 people after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. Four million others became homeless. Sections of towns completely slid off sides of cliffs; landslides also created a blockade for relief workers. In addition, the fact that it occurred just before winter worsened the conditions of those seeking shelters.
  9. Mexico City, Mexico (1985): Mexico City fell to chaos when 400 buildings crumbled, and the power and phone systems blacked out. Public transportation also halted, leaving panicked citizens without communication or instructions. An estimated 250,000 people were without shelter, and a final death count totaled 10,000.
  10. Yunnan, China (2014): Around 4.7 in magnitude, this earthquake killed 398 citizens. The earthquake injured an estimated 1,000 people and displaced over 200,000. Several homes and infrastructure susceptible to earthquakes faced damages as well. The Committee for Disaster Reduction had issued its highest-level response to provide aid: emergency responders prioritized search-and-rescue and the organization directly allocated resources for this purpose.
  11. Puebla, Mexico (2017): A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico on the anniversary of its 1985 earthquake. Since the 1985 quake, people underwent earthquake drills which helped limit the damage in the 2017 earthquake although 225 deaths still occurred. Additionally, the earthquake damaged buildings and Mexico had to evacuate its people. Nearby, homes had also crumbled.
  12. Norcia, Italy (2016): After suffering multiple previous quakes in a short timeframe, another 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred between two towns: Norcia and Amatrice. Numerous aftershocks, magnitudes 5.5 through 7 then followed. Because of its unfortunate location between cities and mountain villages, the quake took 247 victims. Rubble from mountains trapped others and blocked roads.
  13. Ecuador (2016): After this earthquake, 100,000 people needed shelter, 6,000 suffered severe injuries and 700 died. The earthquake destroyed schools and homes along with health care facilities. Flooding following the crisis worsened an outbreak of the Zika virus, but World Vision helped lessen its impact. It provided information on mosquito control and provided activities to teach sanitation in order to prevent the spread of Zika.
  14. Balochistan, Pakistan (2013): The largest province in Pakistan, Balochistan felt an immense tremor from an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude. Awaran, one of six districts affected, lost 90 percent of its houses. The death toll stood at 328 with more than 440 wounded. Excessive mud that the earthquake brought in buried food, water and houses.
  15. Chile (2010): In 2010, a severe 8.8 magnitude earthquake damaged 400,000 homes. Copper production, crucial to Chile’s economy, halted until power resumed. Including loss of exports, the damages totaled $30 billion. The government estimated that the earthquake directly affected 2 million people, while another 800 had died.

Sporadic and unrelenting, earthquakes affect both coastal and inland areas. However, all of the 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll experienced in each have a uniting factor in that they received aid. Despite the severity, government programs and humanitarian bodies rushed to the scene, supplying temporary homes and rations to those suddenly without a place to live. Also, even though most major cases take years to restore themselves, organizations and governments often do not stop giving aid.

– Daniel Bertetti
Photo: USAID

Mental Health in Haiti
On January 12, 2010, large scale earthquake occurred, affecting the island of Hispaniola and most severely affecting the small country of Haiti. Five years after this catastrophe, many people in this country still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.

Earthquake Consequences on Mental Health in Haiti

As a result of the earthquake, over 90.5 percent of Haitians had relatives that either died or were seriously injured and 93 percent saw dead bodies. Moreover, 24.6 percent of the earthquake survivors developed PTSD symptoms and 28.3 percent developed major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms. That accounts for more than half the population suffering from mental illness post-quake.

It is not surprising that so many people were traumatized by the event, as the quake left more than two million affected, 222,750 killed, 80,000 bodies missing, 188,383 houses destroyed or damaged and 1.5 million displaced. Before the earthquake, the mental health system in Haiti was almost non-existent mostly due to stigma.

Problems in Resolving the Issue

The good news is that the earthquake united Haitians to put some focus on mental health, still not nearly enough, but just enough to get the ball rolling. However, due to the overwhelming need for mental health services and very limited resources, most Haitians are not getting the psychiatric help they need. Now that mental health issues are more widespread, there is a stronger push for the government to invest more in training professionals and increase resources for mental health in Haiti.

One of the issues around Haitians not receiving mental health is religion. Mental health issues tend to be attributed to supernatural forces, where three out of four Haitians will see an herbalist or Vodou priests for treatment instead of seeking clinical services. This is due to both cultural beliefs and inadequate resources for mental health. Clinical practice in Haiti must include mental health treatment intersected with Vodou beliefs to effectively care for patients of the country.

Center for Addiction and Mental Health

Out of more than 90 agencies that offered outreach to Haiti, only three offered psychiatric care. Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Office of Transformative Global Health in Canada is one of those agencies. The organization collaborates with 40 religious healers of Haiti to provide cognitive behavioral therapy in an effective way that is in conjunction with cultural beliefs.

The adoption of task-shifting, or dedicating low-cost mental health workers such as community health workers (CHWs) who operate at the community and clinic levels to supplement integrated care, will help with efforts to decentralize mental health care. These improvements are being made in Haiti, however, there is still a long way to go. More investment in the health care system is needed to implement adequate mental health treatment for those still suffering from the trauma of the quake, and more generally, mental health treatment is needed for all.

In improving services for mental health in Haiti, poverty can also be reduced. Implementing adequate treatment can have far-reaching effects, as poor mental health is often the root cause of other health conditions, and it can inhibit people from participating in social and economic development.

Although not enough outreach to Haiti involved mental health services, mental health in Haiti is improving. Through the integration of community services between psychotherapy and religious or cultural practices, agencies like CAMH are facilitating change in the country. Reducing those inhibited by mental disorders also creates more contributors to the community and less burden placed on society due to mental disability. However, more funding is needing in the mental health practice to reduce illness and poverty.

– Anna Power

Photo: Google

Effects of the Indonesian EarthquakeOn August 5, 2018, in Loloan, Indonesia, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the Indonesia archipelago. According to initial reports, the quake was more than nineteen miles deep. At least 91 people were killed, more than 200 were injured and countless more were missing. Thousands have been displaced, living in makeshift camps and temporary shelters. The effects of the Indonesian earthquake are extensive and will further hamper the nation’s ability to alleviate its problems relating to poverty.

A Brief History of Indonesia

Indonesia began working towards its independence in 1945 after the end of World War Two. However, its independence wasn’t formally recognized until 1949 (Indonesia had been a colony of the Netherlands). Later, in 1968, Indonesia experienced an internal revolution when a pro-United States government was established.

Indonesia’s economy was hit the hardest during the 1997 Asian market financial crisis. This was, in part, due to the extensiveness of Indonesia in foreign trade; Indonesia regularly traded (and continues to do so) with The United States, China, Japan, Australia, and Europe.

in recent years, Indonesia has made significant improvements in its economy and its battle with poverty, cutting its poverty level in half over the last twenty years. While this is impressive and should not be easily dismissed, it is not as positive as it sounds. In a country with over 250 million residents, about 28 million still live at or below the poverty line. Job creation, lack of basic services, and a high mortality rate for newborns still affect the largest economy in Southeast Asia.

Earthquake Response in 2004 and 2018

The 2004 earthquake and tsunami had a greater impact on Indonesian than all the Pacific nations affected by that horrific natural disaster. More than 200,000 Indonesians lost their lives. This cycle of natural disaster and devastation is not new to this area. But this time, the international response had been slightly improved.

The government, with the help of the Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias (MDF), concentrated its efforts on rebuilding infrastructure in Indonesia, so the basic essential resources can be accessed. It also worked to repair or rebuild roads to hospitals and schools so they could continue in their duties of caring for and educating the populace.

Unfortunately, this 2018 earthquake will only slow the efforts made by Indonesia at eliminating its poverty-related problems. In order to lessen the effects of the Indonesian earthquake, The United States (along with its allies and other developed nations) should partner with international agencies and nongovernmental organizations in sending international aid and resources to Indonesia, specifically the areas where the earthquake had the highest impact.

The leading nations of our planet could help Indonesia recover from this terrible event, by investing in up-to-date infrastructure and detection equipment. The international community could also rebuild hospitals and schools with the most up-to-date technology, services and equipment.

History shows us that this is an earthquake-prone area of the South Pacific, and measures need to be taken immediately in order to limit the impact of the next natural disaster that impacts this area. The international community could use this unfortunate opportunity to help eradicate poverty in the Indonesian archipelago once and for all. Now is the time to act.

– Raymond Terry
Photo: Google