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Haiti’s double disaster
Sensemaker audio

Haiti’s double disaster

Haiti’s double disaster

Haiti was hit by a deadly earthquake and then, a few days later, a huge storm. It’s not the first time the country has faced a catastrophe…


Transcript:

Basia, narrating:

Hi, I’m Basia – and this is Sensemaker – from tortoisemedia.com

One story every day to make sense of the world.

Today, Haiti has just been hit by two natural disasters in a row.

How will the country recover?

***

Nine days ago Haiti was rocked by an earthquake…a big one. It measured 7.2 on the richter scale. 

“The quake rocked residents of southwestern Haiti into the street, building and homes collapsed into rubbles and dust.”

CBS News

The earthquake shattered towns and villages across the south of the country. 

The UN estimates that 61,000 homes have been destroyed and that a further 76,000 have been damaged. 

Thousands of people have been injured. Two thousand people have died.

Days after the quake, while Haitians were still searching for survivors in the rubble, a fierce tropical storm blew in. 

“Tonight in Haiti, roads choked with mud and debris, rivers swollen and fast after tropical depression Grace ploughed through the earthquake rattled country”

ABC News

The south was lashed by wind and rain. 

Tens of thousands of families were made homeless by the earthquake, and as the storm raged, they had nowhere to go. 

The situation is desperate. 

***

Woman speaking

Theard Andrise, Global News

That’s Theard Andrise, she’s a resident of Les Cayes, a port city in the south of Haiti which was hit hard by the earthquake. 

She lost her home and she’s been camping out in the mud and the rain on the pitch of the city’s football stadium, alongside scores of other families. 

And she’s describing the conditions she faced as the storm took hold:

“The rain fell on us, we slept sitting on chairs,” she said. 

“Nobody has come to help us. We have no tarpaulins, we sleep here sitting down. I don’t want to go home, we are in God’s hands.” 

Families like hers don’t even have plastic sheets to keep themselves dry. 

Some people have been sleeping on the ground with only bedsheets to cover them. 

Right now, these people need shelter, food and medical care. 

And as Haiti emerges from the aftermath of these two disasters, they will need a lot of help to rebuild their homes  – and their lives.  

So where will that help come from?

***

This earthquake could not have come at a worse time for Haiti. 

One month ago, the president – Jovenel Moise – was assassinated in his own home…and the country was thrown into political turmoil.

Afterwards, there was a struggle between two men – Claude Joseph and Ariel Henry – over who would take charge of the country. 

Ariel Henry won out in the end, but now, after only a few weeks in the job, he has to contend with a serious crisis. 

And let’s not forget that on top of political instability, Haiti is also beset by other big problems: poverty, gang violence, corruption, unemployment and, like everywhere, the coronavirus pandemic.

On top of that, the country has scarcely recovered from another earthquake which happened over a decade ago…

“Reconstruction throughout Haiti did not materialise the way many had hoped. Governments around the world donated $10bn for recovery and reconstruction. Private charities donated $3bn more. Haiti’s current president Jovenel Moise says ‘I do not see the results of that money.’” 

NPR

International charities and aid workers flooded into Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, alongside those billions of dollars in aid. 

They promised to rebuild people’s homes, to build roads, schools and hospitals. 

But few of the things the donors promised ever materialised…

Thousands of people displaced by the 2010 earthquake still live in slums without any running water. 

So, will the victims of this earthquake face a similar fate? 

***

Ariel Henry will have his work cut out to deal with even the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and the storm:

“Landslides have made major roads impassable for aid groups, now hospitals in southern Haiti are overwhelmed.”

PBS

“Roads and bridges were badly damaged in the earthquake, and heavy rain since has brought mudslides hampering efforts to get help where it’s most needed.”

BBC News


“It’s been hard to get aid and personnel to the earthquake zone, that’s because a stretch of the only road into the area is being fought over by gangs.”

Al Jazeera

Some international charities and volunteer groups have decided it’s too risky to bring aid by road. So they are travelling by helicopter instead…

All of that is slowing the relief effort down. 

Ariel Henry has promised not to “repeat history on the mismanagement” of aid.

He’s said he’ll personally ensure that support reaches the people who need it the most. 

But so far, those are just words. 

Because for victims of the earthquake – people like Theard Andrise – not much aid has arrived. 

“No one has come to help us,” she said. 


***

Today’s episode was written and produced by Ella Hill.