Haiti: Ecological Problems and the Fix-all
January 12th, 2010 is a day that will forever be in the thoughts of all Haitians. 230,000 dead, 300,000 injured, and 1,000,000 left homeless, but the true effects of the natural disaster that struck Haiti are immeasurable. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit a point 15 miles southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and took a devastating toll on the small Caribbean country. While it had a large effect on Haiti’s population, homes, and economy, it also greatly affected the ecology of the region; from the country’s water supply to its lack of fertile farmland, the earthquake shook Haiti from the roots up and created unforeseen devastating problems in the country that must be attended to.
The earthquake in Haiti worsened the sanitation of the country’s drinking water. Haiti’s water supply has always been less than sanitary due to many different reasons, and its food supply is depleting further and further. Deforestation plays a big role in the sanitation of the drinking water of the country and the lack of food. Before the 1950s, Haiti’s forest cover was in the 60% range, and has dropped to less than 2% today. The lack of forestation causes soil erosion problems, polluting the water sources and ruining fertile farm land. Another cause of Haiti’s unsanitary drinking water and need for food is the rapid increase in population, causing slums to be formed on otherwise fertile land areas. As Haiti’s population goes up, its food supply goes down. (2010 Earthtalk)
The natural disaster created and worsened many problems that combine to form a disastrous way of life. Haiti couldn’t afford for anything to exacerbate its current problems, but the earthquake in Haiti only furthered the pollution of the country’s water. The earthquake destroyed many slums and poorly constructed and dirty buildings, causing higher levels of debris into the already rancid waterways. Also, earthquakes heavily effect forestation and open closed fault lines, further contributing to the soil erosion problems which the country already has trouble dealing with. The sudden rise in debris, soil erosion issues, and opening fault lines affect the amount of land that fertile enough to grow a sustainable amount of food.(Earthtalk)
The earthquake also can help to cause a chain of natural disasters. Before the deforestation and the earthquake, much of Haiti’s forestation was located in its two mountain chains. The mountain chains have long served as a shelter for the high concentration of people residing in the foothills below. Deforestation has caused the population of the foothills to live in danger, and the earthquake has only increased the chance of catastrophes to strike. The lack of forestation and the loose topsoil has created a potential disaster, including landslides and floods. Haiti is a rain-filled country, contributing to the natural disasters, which have already claimed 10,000 lives in the past 4 years.(2010 Ecoamericas) The earthquake in Haiti will increase these numbers, serving as a domino effect, triggering other hazardous disasters.
Knowing the direct effects of the earthquake on the ecology of Haiti, how they affect the people is what is important. The lack of food in Haiti has lead to starvation, and an extremely unhealthy society. It has also lead to wars and fights over farmland as land rights are not properly set in the growing country. The sanitation of the drinking water has also caused many diseases to run rampant in the country, including malicious diseases such as dysentery, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis which can heavily affect an already poverty stricken nation. (2010 Trevors)
Also, thousands of thousands of homes were destroyed in the earthquake. Of Haiti’s ten million citizens, over one million are now homeless due to the effects of the earthquake. These one million plus citizens are now living without proper facilities, water supply, food supply, or a roof over their heads, thanks to the 7.0 magnitude monster.
The now homeless population of Haiti, in addition to the population that is moving from dangerous areas, is migrating to different, safer parts of the country. Migrations of this size are unsettling events that can cause suffering, premature death, and even wars between regions.(2010 Trevors)
One must be wondering what Haiti will do to fix their overwhelming issues. There are many things that must be taken into account in order to fix the country. In terms of short run, Haiti must work to set land rights in their country to prevent large migrations and fights over farm land and housing land. Once they set land rights, many other problems will be fixed, like forestation, food and water supply, and shelter to the entire country.
In the long run, Haiti must reforest their country. They need the forest cover to fix their loose topsoil which will create more fertile farm land, and stop landslides and floods from hitting the people. Haiti must also come up with ways to more effectively take advantage of their natural resources. They must take advantage of things like solar power, wind power, water, and forestation as it could benefit the country a lot more than it does now. When rebuilding, the country must build more structurally sound buildings so that this does not happen again to their homes.
Haiti has a lot on their plate. Many relief efforts have been thrown towards the growing country ever since the earthquake hit, and will be for a while. This is Haiti’s problem, but it’s the world’s duty to fix it. One small country alone cannot overthrow problems of this scale. With hard work, and few years behind us, the effects of the earthquake will be gone.
Trevors J, Saier M. 2010. The crisis in Haiti, 2010: What’s to be done? Water, Air, and Soil Pollution [Internet]. November 7, 2010. 212: 1-2. Available From: http://www.springerlink.com/content/a7p744657w729x3w/
EarthTalk. 2010. Environmental impacts of the Haiti earthquake. [Internet]. November 8th, 2010. Available from: http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-1360-environmental-impacts-of-the-haiti-earthquake.html2010.
2010. Reforestation a key ingredient in Haiti’s recovery. EcoAmericas. Volume 12, No. 4. [Internet]. November 8th 2010. Available from: http://csaweb105v.csa.com/ids70/view_record.php?id=3&recnum=7&log=from_res&SID=56ng08bkvgpj3a55pvfo552qq4&mark_id=search%3A3%3A3%2C0%2C8
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