Natural Disasters in HaitiHistorically, Haiti has been one of the most vulnerable countries to natural disasters worldwide, with more than 96% of the population exposed to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and more. These natural disasters in Haiti only make living in poverty more challenging.

The State of Poverty in Haiti

Due to political, economic and social issues, the poverty rate in Haiti aligns with the World Bank’s extreme poverty line; as of 2021, 30.3% of people in Haiti live on less than $2.15 a day. The state of politics in Haiti has been particularly precarious in the 2020s due to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021. Furthermore, gang violence in Haiti has increased to the point where the Mercy Corps humanitarian group has declared that the country is on the “brink of civil war.” 

The gang violence and political instability in Haiti have worsened poverty rates due to a lack of security and safety; families cannot easily access food and clean water, or go to a hospital or health clinic for fear of being kidnapped or killed by gang members. What’s more, cholera rates have shot up, with 400 weekly cases reported from July 1, 2023. 

Thus, the effects of natural disasters in Haiti have impacted already poor living conditions and increased the rate of poverty significantly. 

Rate of Natural Disasters in Haiti

The World Bank records show that from 1980 to 2020, Haiti experienced a multitude of floods, storms, landslides, droughts, epidemics and earthquakes. The most frequently occurring of these events annually are floods, with an average of 57 taking place yearly from 1980 to 2020. 

In June 2023, Haiti was hit particularly hard by a consecutive flood and earthquake. Mere days after flash floods had displaced 13,000 people and killed 50, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurred and destroyed houses, hospitals and roads. According to reports, the death toll stands at four and the number of injured people is 37. Many people were unable to receive medical attention at hospitals due to destroyed roads both caused and worsened by the flood and earthquake combined. 

Dr. Didinu Tamakloe, country director for Project Hope, said to The Guardian, “Disasters keep hitting Haiti, left and right. People have not had sufficient time to recover from previous disasters…” Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is partly due to its position on a fault line between two huge tectonic plates: the North American plate and the Caribbean plate. When these plates shift, Haiti is the most susceptible to any effects it causes. The World Bank states that the frequency of natural disasters in Haiti is also due to its location in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the steep structure of its land. 

The high rate at which natural disasters occur in Haiti results in a lack of time to recover between disasters. Shortages of resources like food and water often cannot be resolved in time, and structures often cannot be rebuilt before they are affected once more. Therefore, natural disasters in Haiti are a significant driving force behind its high poverty rate. 

The 2010 Earthquake

Another natural disaster in Haiti this century was the earthquake of January 2010, where up to 100,000 people were killed. The fallout of the earthquake left many residents with no access to water, finances, food, shelter and medical equipment. Many were still digging in the rubble for missing loved ones two days after the earthquake occurred. 

Much like in 2023 and 2021, charities did whatever they could to help. For example, the U.N. raised more than £107 million in appeal donations and helped at least 1.8 million people.

What Is Being Done To Help

The Red Cross is constantly helping Haiti in many ways. As of this article’s publication, aid for Haiti is still in its early stages. NGOs are being organized to send to the country to provide assistance, and political negotiations are taking place with Haiti’s prime minister calling for troops from the U.N. to help gain control amid the rising gang violence. 

Charities including UNICEF, the World Food Program (WPF) and the International Organisation for Migration, are working with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to help those affected by the earthquake and floods. The World Food Program is set to distribute 350,000 hot meals to those displaced by the disasters. 

In the aftermath of the August 2021 Earthquake:

  • Six Red Cross ambulances were deployed to transport people from affected areas to health centers. 
  • 25,000 people were provided with essentials like hygienic supplies, blankets, tarpaulins, etc.
  • 32 volunteers worked with Restore Family Links to reunite separated loved ones.
  • Volunteers continually assessed the damage and provided aid where needed. 

While the rate of natural disasters in Haiti is detrimental to the country’s stability, the assistance provided by charities like the Red Cross is what helps them to recover and persist. 

– Jess Wilkinson
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Haiti
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, countries around the world, including the U.S., sent a great deal of assistance to the devastated country. The U.S. has given about $13 billion to Haiti in foreign aid. Despite these efforts, the people of Haiti still face elevated poverty and hunger levels.

In October 2016, Haiti faced one of its worst hurricanes to date. Hurricane Matthew was a category four storm that caused severe damage and killed approximately 600 people. Many organizations continue to help repair the damage Matthew and earlier storms brought to Haiti. To understand the severity of the crisis, look below for the top 10 facts about hunger in Haiti:

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Haiti

  1. In April 2017, Haiti had the lowest food availability in the world. The Dominican Republic was the second lowest with Chad following in third. In the U.S., food availability is measured to be about 3,750 calories per person each day. In Haiti, there are about 1,976 calories per person available each day. This does not mean that each person has the opportunity to consume these many calories. Some Haitians consume far above this number while many consume far below it.
  2. Roughly 50 percent of Haiti’s population is undernourished. Even before the 2010 earthquake, 40 percent of households were undernourished. The already high number has risen as a consequence of repeated natural disasters in the country, like Hurricane Matthew.
  3. One-in-five Haitian children are malnourished. One-in-10 Haitian children are acutely malnourished. One-in-14 will die before age five.
  4. Haiti is the poorest country in the Northern hemisphere. Two out of three Haitians live on less than $2 per day. In comparison, the average American spends around $140 per day.
  5. Haiti’s main staple food is rice, importing 80 percent of it, despite the fact that 50 percent of the jobs in the country are related to agriculture and 25 percent of the country’s GDP comes from agriculture.
  6. Only 10 percent of Haitian agricultural lands are irrigated, which leaves the country extremely dependent on rain. This makes the country especially vulnerable as droughts can have an amplified impact on the population’s health and well-being.
  7. Haiti is the third most affected country by extreme weather. The weather has a severe impact on food resources available to Haitians because it can destroy crops and land. Haiti’s hunger and poverty levels are repeatedly exacerbated by cases of drought and hurricanes. Though these events are extremely tragic, the relief efforts that have followed such disasters have allowed other countries to see exactly how bad the hunger and poverty crises are. This has sparked an increased effort to provide aid and growth initiatives to Haiti.
  8. Fifty-nine percent of Haitian people live in poverty and almost 25 percent live in extreme poverty. The poverty rate in the U.S. fluctuates between 10 and 15 percent.
  9. Fewer than 50 percent of households in Haiti have access to clean water. Only 25 percent of households in Haiti have access to adequate sanitation. A lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation make the population more prone to diseases.
  10. A third of all women and children in Haiti suffer from anemia. Anemia is a condition that arises when a person does not have enough red blood cells. The disease often results when one faces deficiencies of particular nutrients – especially iron. It is particularly common in women because they lose blood at high rates through menstrual cycles. Anemia can cause severe organ damage if left untreated.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Haiti highlight the dire conditions in the country. Though the hunger crisis persists, there are organizations working tirelessly to help the country and its people. An example of this is an organization called Action Against Hunger. This organization seeks to provide families in Haiti with agricultural training. This gives them not just short-term food relief, but also a long-term source of food and economic growth.

Natural disasters are inevitable and one cannot be sure when Haiti will face another great set back. However, if more is done to amplify the country’s growth now, Haiti will be better prepared to face such disasters and avoid some of its devastating consequences.

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr