• 222,570 people died and 300,572 were injured
• 1.5 million children under 18 were directly or indirectly affected by the quake
• The total value of damage and losses caused by earthquake is estimated at US$7.8 billion — US$4.3 billion represents physical damage and US$3.5 billion are economic losses — some 120 percent of the 2009 gross domestic product (GDP) of Haiti
• 60 percent of government, administrative and economic infrastructure has been destroyed, as well as parliament and the judicial sector
Source: The United Nations’ Special Envoy to Haiti reported October 1, 2010
Haiti: A government with very little power and resources
The Haitian government’s lack of preparedness for earthquakes despite the fact that earthquakes are common to the region is indicative of the governments inability and lack of resources to properly plan and protect it’s population against natural disasters. This lack of preparedness is not an isolated incident. Prior to the disaster, the World Bank and others were working with the Haitian government to incorporate disaster risk management into Haiti’s development strategy and to develop its capacity for disaster response. This capacity building was in its early stages of development when the earthquake hit, on January 12, 2010, and was mainly focused on hurricanes, which are the most common cause of natural disaster on the island (Margesson, 2010, p. 4).
Historically Haiti’s government has not been a provider of services to its population. One study found that even before the 2010 earthquake, NGOs provided 70 percent of healthcare and private schools funded by NGOs accounted for 85 percent of the national education (Ramachandran, 2012, p. 2). Charities and NGOs have become the main avenue for foreign aid to reach the Haitian people. This reality is a sad consequence to the immense unpredictability in Haitian politics and many foreign nations unwillingness to provide aid directly to the Haitian government. For example in 2007-2008 fiscal year, USAID spent 300 million in Haiti, all of which was implemented through foreign NGOs (Kristoff, 2010, p. 1).
The dominance of foreign NGOs has created a parallel entity more powerful than the Haitian government, itself. NGOs have successfully built an infrastructure for the provision of social services, creating very little incentive for the government to build its own capacity (Kristoff, 2010, p. 1). Just as the Haitian people have learned to look to the NGOs rather than the government for assistance and provision of fundamental services the international community and foreign humanitarian groups coordinated immediate disaster response in isolation, on the gated United Nations Logistics base (Sontag, 2012, p. 4). In the aftermath, of the earthquake almost all of the relief assistance provided to Haiti bypassed its government. Humanitarian organizations, NGOs, private contractors and other non-state service providers received 99 percent of...