PORT-AU-PRINCE — Located in the beautiful and vibrant Caribbean, the undeveloped country of Haiti experienced tremendous devastation in 2010 when a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country with the epicenter about 15 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince. Approximately 300,000 people were killed in this tragedy, and about 1.5 million were left homeless. Many experts assessed that this was the worst earthquake in the region in over 200 years.
Millions of Haitians were devastated, grieving, homeless and left with limited access to basic necessities. In 2016, the country experienced severe flooding by Hurricane Matthew. Since the earthquake and the additional damage caused by the hurricane, the country struggled to rebuild and repair the destruction caused to buildings, roads, waterlines and much more. Thus, there exists a deep need for improvements to infrastructure in Haiti.
Lack of a Sewage System
Port-au-Prince is considered to be one of the largest cities in the world lacking a central sewage system. There are no sewers connected to sinks, showers or toilets. Approximately 3 million people who live in the metro area use outhouses, resulting in much waste left in unsanitary areas, where it can contaminate drinking water and spread disease. The government considers the lack of a sewage system to not be a priority that needs immediate attention because many Haitians are struggling to get access to food and water.
The issue attracts much attention from international donors, due in part to the Haitian’s governments lack of funding. Since 2010, international groups have spent millions of dollars on a plan to build open-air sewage treatment plants across Haiti. One of the facilities opened in 2012, and there were plans to open seven more across Haiti; however, over five years later all the construction has stalled, leaving only one sewage treatment facility available in the entire country.
Damaged Roads, Bridges, & Homes
As a result of various natural disasters, Haiti has experienced serious damage to main roads and bridges. While the issue may seem small, the lack of usable roads has severe implications. Many of the damaged roads in Haiti prevent the passage of goods and services between regions of the country. The disasters also caused crop destruction, as food production and transportation has become more limited. The difficulty transporting food and various goods has further perpetuated hunger and poverty throughout a country in which millions of people are in deep need.
The earthquake also caused destruction to the homes of millions of Haitians. Men, women, and children were left homeless and their livelihoods deeply impacted. While homes have begun to be rebuilt since the earthquake, tragedy struck the country again in 2016 with Hurricane Matthew. The severe flooding caused even more damage to homes. The need to improve infrastructure in Haiti is something that needs immediate attention, in order to improve the wellbeing of millions.
Despite the tragedy that Haiti has experienced over the last several years, many organizations have provided support to those in need. Habitat for Humanity is actively working Simon-Pele, a neighborhood that is known for its high unemployment rates and significant gang activity and violence. Since 2011, the organization repaired over 600 homes and simultaneously provided vocational and non-vocational training for the 6,000 residents in the community. Habitat for Humanity also hires local contractors to implement the projects — employment that in turn improves the livelihood of Haitians.
Improving the infrastructure in Haiti needs to be a priority, especially for foreign donors and countries seeking to provide assistance. The country is in need of a sewage system, repairs to roads, bridges and homes; these improvements can be accomplished through countries like the United States providing financial assistance, and putting systems in place to provide vocational training to the Haitians.
By providing training, foreign organizations can help give Haitians the necessary skills to rebuild the country, and thus make them more equipped for any future natural disasters.
– Sarah Jane Fraser