The environment in Haiti
Haiti's environment is characterized by natural disasters such as devastating earthquakes, deadly cyclones, floods.
Deforestation is a major problem for the environment.
Global warming is hitting Haiti hard, which is one of the most affected countries.
The "natural balance" is therefore largely upset throughout the country, which becomes very vulnerable to flooding.
Haiti is located on the border of two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. There are two main fault lines. The first passes north of Haiti, the other crosses the southern peninsula of Tiburon to Port-au-Prince then the border of the Dominican Republic, for several hundred kilometers.
Haiti has suffered several major earthquakes in recent centuries. Port-au-Prince, was destroyed by two major earthquakes, in 1751 and then in 1771. Cap-Haitien, on the north coast, was severely damaged in 1842.
Earthquakes are particularly deadly. Most buildings are not built to earthquake-resistant standards.
The earthquake of January 12, 2010 was the most devastating for two centuries. With a magnitude of over 7.1 on the Richter scale, its epicenter was located near Port-au-Prince. It left between 250,000 and 300,000 dead, more than 300,000 injured and more than a million homeless, and caused considerable damage. Port-au-Prince, the capital, which has two million inhabitants, has been largely destroyed. Almost all public buildings, national palaces, ministries, DGI, courthouses, the cathedral, most churches and many schools or training centers have been destroyed. Many homeless people have lived for years in temporary shelters in tents in close proximity. A few shelters still exist today.
Many public buildings have not yet been rebuilt ten years later. Many individual houses affected have been poorly repaired and many, newly built, do not meet seismic and cyclonic standards despite some efforts.
Powerful and deadly cyclones:
Haiti is located in the path of tropical cyclones that originate in the Atlantic Ocean and move towards the Gulf of Mexico. It receives an average of seven cyclones per year, from July to November. Some hurricanes have marked the history of Haiti:
In 1963, Hurricane Flora killed nearly 5,000 people in the South and West departments.
In 1994, Storm Gordon caused the death of several thousand people in the Jacmel and South region.
In 1998, Hurricane Georges particularly devastated the annex of Fourgy, with nearly 1.80 m in the yard.
In 2004, several storms and cyclones made several hundred victims, hundreds of thousands of homeless, especially in Gonaïves (Jeanne, with more than three meters of water).
In 2008, four cyclones devastated the country, causing many victims and destroying crops, homes and infrastructure.
In 2016, Cyclone Mattew caused considerable damage in the South and Grande Anse.
The impact of these hurricanes or storms, especially from 2004 to 2008, is considerable for the country, mountainous, densely populated and with limited resources.
These natural disasters result in the destruction of many agricultural infrastructures, roads, bridges, power lines, as well as private residences, public buildings, churches and schools.
Floods are a recurring phenomenon in Haiti. Many depressions cross the island very regularly.
Deforestation causes significant soil erosion and torrential rains frequently lead to increasing flooding. The non-cleaning of the canals discharging rainwater towards the sea on a regular basis leads to significant flooding in large cities and in particular in the Cité Soleil, by the sea.
The regular floods, after heavy rains, claim many victims and cause significant devastation across the country.
The coastline is also heavily impacted by torrential rains destroying the seashores, mangroves, corals, flora and marine fauna.
Floods and droughts alternate and complicate traditional cultures.
Haiti is a country of mountains (80% of the territory) and the population has had to gradually clear the mountainsides for food crops. Deforestation worsened in the twentieth century to cope with population growth and poverty. Many trees are cut down regularly to make charcoal for cooking.
In 1923, the forest still covered nearly 60% of the country, it covers only about 2% today.
Deforestation leads to significant soil erosion, which reduces agricultural yields and causes deadly landslides due to torrential rains that gully.
Nature retreats deeply in the face of urban and peri-urban overpopulation.
The natural environment in cities is overwhelmed by the presence of man and suffers from lack of sanitation.
The government has done little to stop deforestation. Very few reforestation programs have been undertaken.
Sanitation has deteriorated steadily in recent years. Household garbage is rarely removed and piles of garbage are spreading in all neighborhoods. There is practically no waste collection and the population is forced to feed these piles of rubbish everywhere. The markets also produce a lot of debris.
The pouring channels of torrential rains are no longer cleaned regularly and the slightest rain causes mud and piles of rubbish impeding traffic. These channels are most often used as a dumping ground for all household waste, also all plastic waste such as bags, bottles and foam plates or dishes. This detritus finds its way to the sea and destroys all maritime life over large portions.
Environmental degradation and poverty are linked, one reinforcing the other. Regular natural disasters reinforce the rural exodus towards the capital, often on uninhabitable land, ravines, mountain sides, river beds, etc.
Haiti is one of the most exposed countries in the world to global warming, which reinforces increasingly violent and destructive climatic phenomena.
Periods of drought are also increasingly important and impact seasonal crops dependent on rains.