Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Haiti faces long road to recovery, expert warns

Date:
January 21, 2010
Source:
Kingston University
Summary:
A senior British academic has warned that earthquake-ravaged Haiti faces a prolonged period of recovery and reconstruction. Experts say the sheer scale of devastation meant the island nation would face years of reconstruction once the more immediate phases of the rescue and aid operation had wound up. Researchers describe the earthquake as having the potential to become one of the worst natural disasters of its kind in the western hemisphere in recent times.

A senior academic has warned that it could be years before Haiti fully recovers from the effects of the earthquake that rocked the Caribbean republic last week. Dr Neil Thomas, an expert in earth sciences at Kingston University in London and a member of the UK Disaster Risk Reduction Forum, said the sheer scale of devastation meant the island nation would face a prolonged period of reconstruction once the more immediate phases of the rescue and recovery operation had wound up.

The 12 January tragedy had the potential to become one of the worst natural disasters of its kind to have hit the western hemisphere in recent times, Dr Thomas said. "Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries and that, combined with a very high population density, poor education, social unrest and a lack of earthquake-proof buildings make it extremely vulnerable to this type of natural hazard," he explained. The situation had been exacerbated by the fact that Haiti was still recovering from the aftermath of four successive hurricanes in 2008 when the earthquake struck.

The magnitude 7 quake, which Government officials estimate could have killed up to 200,000 people, was caused by slip on an east-west fault system where the North American and Caribbean plates slide past each other. It occurred only 10 kilometres below the Earth's surface, with an epicentre just 15 kilometres south west of the capital Port-au-Prince, where approximately 300,000 of the city's 2 million-strong population have been left homeless. Several unusually strong aftershocks, measuring more than magnitude 5, had caused further damage and added to the chaos in the capital. "Even with better structural protection, extensive building damage would have occurred in a quake with these characteristics," Dr Thomas said.

Given Haiti's location in a complex geological region, such severe earthquakes are not totally unexpected. In 1842, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake on another fault system in the north of the country had killed 5000 people. "This makes the lack of rigorous disaster planning and management strategies all the more surprising," Dr Thomas said. "It's impossible to prevent earthquakes occurring, so the priority for the future has to be ensuring that countries like Haiti have well-planned, co-ordinated disaster risk reduction measures. These should include engineering solutions, scientific monitoring, educational measures, improved aid access and well-organised and rehearsed strategic responses." While such measures would inevitably prove costly and there could be no guarantee that lives would be saved, they would nonetheless be an enormous improvement on the situation currently facing the country, Dr Thomas said.

Despite the valiant efforts of search and rescue teams from around the world who have already rescued more than 120 people using state-of-the-art technology, the chances of finding further survivors buried beneath the rubble were now rapidly diminishing. Much of the focus would now centre around more effective distribution of the huge amount of international aid that had poured into the country. "Major obstacles to proper distribution seem to have been largely logistical. Haiti doesn't have the infrastructure to cope with the scale of the operation, many roads are blocked and some of the outlying communities affected by landslides are very remote," Dr Thomas explained.

Medical supplies, water, food and specialist equipment were still desperately needed in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas and the risk of disease remained very real. "Given the communication problems caused by the earthquake, it's a difficult operation to co-ordinate and it's not surprising that early on there were reports of people not knowing who was in charge or, worse still, of nobody apparently taking charge," Dr Thomas said. "This sometimes happens when there are so many non-government organisations in a disaster zone, all having their own methodologies and views on what should happen. Step by step things are happening and aid is beginning to get through so it looks as though the wheels are eventually starting to turn. There is a very long way to go however and tough times lie ahead for the Haitian people and the aid workers on the ground."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Kingston University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Kingston University. "Haiti faces long road to recovery, expert warns." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121083117.htm>.
Kingston University. (2010, January 21). Haiti faces long road to recovery, expert warns. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121083117.htm
Kingston University. "Haiti faces long road to recovery, expert warns." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121083117.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins