Natural disasters are a fact of life in Haiti, both in terms of the inevitable tropical storms/hurricanes and the floods/ mudslides left in their wake, largely as a result of the unabated deforestation. Gustav resulted in 22 deaths, but certainly could have been worse. While Haiti can't stop the storms, it is possible to mitigate the damage that they cause. Preparedness is key. Topix carried a Scoop Media World article on the efforts of the international community to help Haiti better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Climate change is making it harder for many people to access clean water and food, and widening the spread of infectious diseases, which include malaria and its dangerous cousin dengue fever. If the past few years have become the new normal, we need to do a better job of adapting. This means preventing, rather than just responding to disasters.
I came across an impressive multimedia piece on Haiti's environmental damage in the South Florida Sun Sentinal. The piece contains impressive, and disturbing, photography of deforestation, erosion, and flooding. In addition, there are photo essays, interactive lessons for children, and a number of graphs and charts. The Wynne Farm is also mentioned in this piece. Unfortunately, the "community and solutions" section does not offer up any solutions. Despite this, this is a good piece for understanding Haiti's deteriorating environment - and the repercussions. You can access the piece by clicking here.
It was a busy year for natural disasters. According to an article in the London Guardian, fourteen UN Disaster Reponse teams were dispatched worldwide in 2007. Nine of these were deployed in Latin America and the Carribean. By way of comparison, the previous record was in 1998, when eight teams were sent out after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America and Hurricane George came through the Carribean.
July Stand-by, August a Must, September Remember and October…OVER? Not in Haiti and certainly not now. In recent years the 10th and 11th months in Haiti are this educational weather ditty’s August, October and November a Must. As the rains have rearranged this hurricane jingle they have also rearranged Haiti’s rivers to destroy homes and lives, numerous Haitians are now living in temporary shelters.
Below is an article I was reading in the International Herald Tribune entitled, "Haiti's Usually Raucous Day of the Dead Solemn After Flood Deaths". I was struck by a quote by Dessaville Espady who said "Each of these trees is a life spirit. The more trees we cut, the more we suffer"
Per the article below, a U.S. Congressional Delegation visiting Haiti to assess the extent of flood damage from tropical storms had to finish the trip early and return stateside as a result of another approaching tropical storm. In a country that is both deforested and has limited infrastructure, storms can have very serious consequences.
The flooding in the south of Haiti is front page news on the well known disaster/conflict response site, Reliefweb. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released a situation report (sitrep) stating that thus far 37 have died, 4 are missing, and 78 wounded. In all, 14,504 families were affected and over 3000 families displaced.