Economic Impact of the Earthquake

Haiti is currently in a predicament that most country’s dream they never have to face.  On January 12, 2010 disaster struck this already struggling nation.  A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit this small nation’s capital, leaving the city in ruins.  As expected this natural disaster had a devastating effect on Haiti’s economy, as well as its surrounding nations.  Death totals topped 200,000 and reliable industries and structures were destroyed, leaving the nation in a tough situation.  While other countries and Haiti itself have been attempting to stabilize its economy, it remains clear that the earthquake that has recently stuck Haiti has had a catastrophic impact on Haiti, leaving its economy in shambles.

This photo by the United Nation's Development Programme shows a group of Haitians working to clean up the rubble left by the earthquake.

Throughout its history Haiti has never been known as a wealthy country. In fact, Haiti is by far the poorest country in the Americas despite its increase in wealth in the years prior to the earthquake. In 2009 Haiti’s GDP stood at $11.9 billion compared to $11.6 billion in 2008, representing a substantial step in the right direction that unfortunately was wiped out by this recent disaster (Central).  Haiti’s citizens have never been economically stable, with about 80% of its population below the poverty line.  While many may blame the nation alone for their less than ideal economy, they have not had the best luck in the past few years.  They have been cursed by several tropical storms and natural disasters that have temporarily crippled their economy but none have been as devastating as this recent earthquake.  The total damages of this tragedy have reached an estimated total of $7.8 billion solidifying the severity of the earthquake (Haiti).

Other then the heartbreaking casualties, the structural damages caused by the earthquake are amongst the major concerns.  Hundreds of thousands of buildings plummeted to the ground including homes, the presidential palace, and even the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.  The earthquake resulted in 105,000 homes being destroyed, causing $2.3 billion in damage and the nation being covered in rubble (Haiti).  In fact, “removing all the earthquake debris from the country would require at least 1,000 trucks working 24 hours a day for up to five years” (Herlinger).  In addition to these building damages the ports in this nation’s capital were ruined by the collapse of several cranes.  As a result supplies were not only lost but the entrance for aiding ships were temporarily inhibited.  Haiti’s closest airport, Aeroport International Toussaint L’Ouverture, was also damaged thereby diverting planes bringing relief to other airports (Ivy).  Finally, the few roads that were paved in Haiti were left cracked and flooded with cars damaged by the earthquake, making transportation in and out of Haiti nearly impossible.

This photo by Kris Peterson depicts the devastating structural damage caused by the Haiti Earthquake.

Unfortunately the Haitians that did survive now find themselves in a terrible predicament as far as employment goes.  With Haiti already notorious for its high unemployment rates, the earthquake only furthered the nation’s problem.  Being a poor country, much on the nation’s jobs and economy relied on agriculture and certain industries such as sugar refining and textiles.  In fact, agriculture alone employs roughly two thirds of the labor force (Central).  However, as expected the majority of Haiti’s agriculture and industries were destroyed in the earthquake, causing unemployment levels to sky-rocket.  Additionally, most of Haiti’s primary exports such as mangoes and coffee are seeing a large drop off (Collier & Warnholz).  Much is being done to help restore Haiti’s primary industries through grants and donations.  For example, the U.N. created a “$2 million fund to boost textile manufacturing, which generates some $130 million in exports,” and also opened up many new jobs (Schoen).  Even with these generous donations, however, it is apparent that Haiti’s economy will require much time to gain a full recovery.

In Conclusion, Haiti’s people and economy have been devastated but this earthquake that has recently struck the nation.  It has put an already struggling economy into an even worse situation and left the survivors in a tough spot.  Most are left homeless and unemployed with nowhere to go.  Not to mention, simple supplies such as food, clean water, and other resources are scarce which serves only to make the survivor’s situation more difficult.  While efforts are being made to help Haiti reach a speedy recovery, the damages have cost Haiti an overwhelming amount of money that will likely require a great deal of time to recover from.  At this point Haiti’s economy still lies in the hands of foreign nation’s giving aid, for Haiti is in no position to start generating revenue of its own.

Works Cited

Central America and Carribean: Haiti. (2010). Cia-The World Factbook. Retrieved November 4, 2010 from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html.

Collier, P., & Warnholz, J. (2010). Building Haiti’s Economy, One Mango at a Time. New York Times, p. 27. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2010, from Academic Search Premier database.

Haiti earthquake PDNA: Assessment of damage, losses, and general and sectoral needs. (2010). Retrieved November 6, 2010 from: www.cirh.ht/sites/ihrc/en/Haiti%20Recovery%20Plan/…/PDNA.pdf.

Herlinger, C. (2010). Standstill in Haiti. Christian Century, 127(17), 27-29. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2010, from Academic Search Premier database.

Ivy, R. (2010). Aftershock. Architectural Record, p. 15. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2010, from Academic Search Premier database.

Schoen, J. (2010). Quake crushes Haiti’s economic revival. Msn. Retrieved November 4, 2010 from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34866872/ns/business-world_business.



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