Haiti - One Year After the Earthquake Much Still Needs to Be Done

 

On January 12, 2010 a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. 200 000 people were killed and over a million lost their homes. A year after the quake, Haiti is still fighting to recover and its problems are far from gone.

Although relief workers confirm that much has been done to rebuild the country, there still are many tasks that have not been completed. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in tents, set up by aid organizations in the last months.

A year after the magnitude 7.0 quake, the cleanup has barely started. Less than 5 % of the rubble has been cleared. New buildings and homes cannot be built before everything is cleaned up. After the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia it took the country over 2 years to remove all the rubble.

 

Another big issue is the fight over land rights. Most of the ministries and their records have been destroyed in the disaster. People come up with land claims and produce illegal documents. Not even the government knows how much land it owns.

 

Port-au-Prince after the earthquake

Port-au-Prince after the earthquake - Photo Marco Dormino/ The United Nations

 

The earthquake alone is not the only problem Haiti must deal with. In autumn of 2010 a cholera epidemic broke out and up to now has killed 4,000 people.

Many experts criticize the way the Haitian government has handled the crisis.  It has not shown the leadership needed in dealing with such a situation. Corruption was commonplace before the disaster and has even increased afterwards. Money from the developed world has not yet reached those who need it.  The United Nations claims that not even half of the money that has been promised to the state has reached its destination.

Up to now less than 30,000 have found permanent places to live and over 80% of the earthquake victims still live in tents. Homeless people want to stay in the tent camps, because they have water, sanitation and health services there. The government has planned to build shelters to get the people out of their tents but they do not have the money to do that. They hope for private investors to take over and build new apartment buildings.

The streets of Port-au-Prince and other cities show ugly pictures. Apart from the tons of rubble that still cover the streets, most of the population still lives in dirty and unhealthy conditions. Piles of garbage add to the chaos. Rape is a widespread crime and armed gangs terrorize the people and steal food.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti had been the poorest country in the Americas. It has suffered much in its 200 year history: hurricanes, floods, political coups and cruel dictators. Hopefully its people will have the strength to master its current situation.

 

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Words

  • aid organization = an organization that helps in disasters and other situations
  • although = while
  • apart from = except for
  • armed gang = group of people who have guns and fight against each other
  • barely = hardly, only just
  • cholera = disease that is caused by dirty drinking water ; sometimes it leads to death
  • claim =to say you have the right to own something
  • clear = move away
  • commonplace =  widespread, everywhere
  • complete = finish
  • confirm = to show that something is true
  • corruption = dishonesty; illegal actions from someone in power
  • cruel = brutal
  • current = today’s, right now
  • deal = handle
  • destination = end
  • destroy = completely damage
  • devastating = to damage or destroy something very badly
  • developed world = rich countries of Europe, North Americana as well as Japan and Australia
  • disaster = catastrophe
  • earthquake = when the earth’s surface suddenly shakes; it leads to much destruction
  • epidemic = plague; when many people get the illness at the same time
  • flood = land is covered with water after heavy rainfall
  • garbage = waste; things that people do not need any more and throw away
  • health service = place where you are cared for, so that you do not get ill
  • homeless = without a place to live
  • illegal = against the law ; here: false
  • increase = to go up
  • investor = a person who gives money to do something
  • issue = topic, problem
  • land rights = which land belongs to whom
  • leadership = control
  • magnitude = how strong an earthquake is; measured on a scale
  • master = deal with, overcome
  • permanent = lasting, for a longer time
  • pile = mountain, mass
  • political coup = when other groups try to take control of the government, mostly through violence
  • produce = show
  • promise = to say that you will do something
  • quake = short word for “earthquake”
  • rape = to force someone to have sex with you
  • reach = get to
  • record = documentation, paper that tells you if you own something
  • recover = get better
  • relief worker = a person who helps after a disaster
  • remove = clean up
  • rubble = broken stones and bricks of houses and buildings that fell apart after the earthquake
  • sanitation =  to remove dirty water
  • shelter = place to live
  • strength = power
  • suffer = to go through something bad
  • task = job ; things to be done
  • tent = a shelter that is made up of cloth and poles that hold it up
  • terrorize = threaten
  • tsunami = a very large wave that is cause by an underwater earthquake
  • ugly = horrible
  • unhealthy = harmful, bad
  • victim = the people who lost their homes in the earthquake
  • widespread = common