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Haiti - Multihazardous Environment

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Earthquake Information. Grinding poverty and tectonic volatility make a devastating combination. Haiti was a humanitarian disaster even before the earthquake hit.

Grinding poverty and tectonic volatility make a devastating combination

It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere; most of its buildings are badly constructed out of tin and cheap concrete with many slums perched on steep, bare hillsides which are particularly prone to landslides. In addition, the population of 9 million has barely recovered from a series of devastating flash floods, hurricanes and mudslides in the last few years. Forgiveness for Haiti? We should be begging theirs. If we are to believe the G7 finance ministers, Haiti is on its way to getting something it has deserved for a very long time: full "forgiveness" of its foreign debt.

Forgiveness for Haiti? We should be begging theirs

In Port-au-Prince, Haitian economist Camille Chalmers has been watching these developments with cautious optimism. Debt cancellation is a good start, he told al-Jazeera English, but: "It's time to go much further. We have to talk about reparations and restitution for the devastating consequences of debt. " In this telling, the whole idea that Haiti is a debtor needs to be abandoned. How Haiti hopes to break the cycle of disaster: restoring its lost forests. Deep gashes in the steep mountains around Gonaïves are the claw marks of the disasters that strike this north-western coastal city with deadly regularity.

How Haiti hopes to break the cycle of disaster: restoring its lost forests

They are also Haiti's stigmata: the wounds of a nation caused by the near-complete deforestation of a land that was once a rich tropical habitat. But after a hurricane season in which this, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, was struck by four intense storms triggering flash floods and landslides that took hundreds of lives and created tens of thousands of refugees, richer nations are again being asked to help a country often described as beyond hope. So far, the call for aid has fallen on mainly deaf ears. The UN appealed for $108m in emergency aid after Gonaïves and another town, Cabaret, were buried under millions of tons of mud, sewage and rock after being hit by storms from mid-August to mid-September.

But so far only 40 per cent of that target has been met. One solution comes from close to home. Haiti death toll rises to 842 after Hurricane Matthew, reports say. Hurricane Matthew: preparations and aftermath – in pictures. Why is Haiti vulnerable to natural hazards and disasters? Haiti, which is feeling the force of Hurricane Matthew, with winds of 145mph and 3ft of rain, is all too accustomed to natural hazards and disasters.

Why is Haiti vulnerable to natural hazards and disasters?

The Caribbean country is regularly battered by tropical storms and floods and has also been struck by powerful earthquakes. During the hurricane season eight years ago, Haiti was hit by four storms – Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike – which killed more than 800 people and devastated nearly three-quarters of its agricultural land. It also suffered dire flooding in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007. How hurricanes in Haiti have left hundreds dead and a country drowning. When four huge storms struck this summer, one after another in the space of 30 days, Haiti never stood a chance.

How hurricanes in Haiti have left hundreds dead and a country drowning

Each time the sky darkened and drops began to fall, it took just hours for torrential downpours to soften hillsides into sludge and send mounds of slick, wet earth crashing into homes. Survivors scrambled on to roofs and watched helplessly as others perished in one of the Caribbean's worst disasters of recent years. The four tropical storms, ending with September's Hurricane Ike, turned Haiti into a wasteland. Nearly 800 people died, about 60% of the country's harvest was destroyed and entire cities were rendered desolate and uninhabitable.

Life in the western hemisphere's poorest country went from grim to desperate. Weeks later, the floodwaters have receded and the dead are buried, but millions of cubic feet of mud remains, rendering cities such as Gonaives sticky, squelching versions of Pompeii. There is little chance that photographer Gideon Mendel will forget. Haiti's Hurricane History. The catastrophic earthquake of 2010 is only the latest--and worst--natural disaster to devastate the nation of Haiti.

Haiti's Hurricane History

Up until the quake, the hurricane season of 2008 was the cruelest natural disaster ever experienced in Haiti. Four storms--Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike--dumped heavy rains on the impoverished nation. The rugged hillsides, stripped bare of 98% of their forest cover thanks to deforestation, let flood waters rampage into large areas of the country. Particularly hard-hit was Gonaives, the fourth largest city. According to, Haiti suffered 793 killed, with 310 missing and another 593 injured. The year 2008 was only one of many years hurricane have brought untold misery to Haiti. Why does Haiti suffer a seemingly disproportionate number of natural disasters? What can be done to reduce these human-worsened natural disasters? Organizations Active in Haitian Relief Efforts: Reasons Behind Haiti’s Poverty. Long before the biggest natural disaster in Haiti's history shook Port-au-Prince on the afternoon of Jan. 12, the Caribbean nation of 10 million struggled to feed and shelter its expanding population.

Reasons Behind Haiti’s Poverty

More than a million families relied daily on international food aid, and the capital sprawled with shantytowns build by unemployed farmhands who had migrated to the city in search of work.