Haiti: Five Years After the Earthquake

Our teams work to restore stability to communities devastated by a natural disaster
Kemlie lost her home in the earthquake and lives in a camp with her daughter. Photo: ACF-Haiti, G. Turine
Kemlie lost her home in the earthquake and lives in a camp with her daughter. Photo: ACF-Haiti, G. Turine

After a massive earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince in 2010, plunging Haiti into a state of emergency, the desperate situation was compounded by a cholera epidemic, cyclones, and tropical storms. Five years after the catastrophe, through hard work and determination, the people if Haiti are slowly regaining their self-sufficiency. But there are thousands of people affected by the earthquake who are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

“Truly an unprecedented event”

There were 1.5 million people displaced by the earthquake that hit on January 12, 2010. Today, there are still more than 70,000 people in the capital without homes, a high figure, but one that highlights the tremendous progress that has been made in the last five years. Rebuilding Port-au-Prince hasn’t been easy, especially because the city was already vulnerable and housing options were limited even before disaster struck. 

Living conditions for displaced Haitians are difficult. One mother, who fled to a camp in Bourdon Valley after the earthquake, shares her harrowing experience of survival and recovery with us: 

“The earthquake was truly an unprecedented event, a painful experience that I never want to relive. In the rainy season, we suffered from rashes. When the sun was shining, it was impossible to live under tarpaulins. Today, we continue to face many difficulties—not everything is resolved—but with the help of NGOs, at least we can take care of our basic needs. My vegetable garden installed with support from Action Against Hunger allows me to grow some vegetables to eat.”

– Mother and earthquake survivor, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Rebuilding a fragile nation

Reconstruction takes time because it’s not just houses that need to be rebuilt—it’s an entire country. Every system in Haiti, from its economy to healthcare and education to sanitation infrastructure, was in a state of upheaval in the aftermath of the earthquake. Nearly 600,000 people are still considered chronically food insecure, and 30 percent of the population is moderately food insecure—these groups are still highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Hélène Queau, our Country Director in Haiti, explains how the disaster impacted the country’s stability, and discusses the steps necessary for a full recovery:

“Port-au-Prince had nearly four million inhabitants before the earthquake—250,000 people died that day instantly. Reconstruction in Haiti is not just about the physical rebuilding of affected areas. The entire country was deeply affected, including state institutions, the economy, water supply systems… For this reconstruction to be sustainable and effective, we must address the structural causes that have affected the country for decades—the chronic problems that are aggravated by crises and keep the most vulnerable families in a constant state of poverty.”

– Hélène Queau, Country Director, Action Against Hunger, Haiti

We were working with the people of Haiti before the earthquake, and will continue working together with national institutions and aid organizations to create lasting solutions.

 

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About Brianna Collins

Brianna Collins

Brianna leads our web and print design team, and helps to tell Action Against Hunger's story across multiple channels. Connect with Brianna on Google+.