Earthquake Case Study (Haiti – Poor)


Haiti is a small island located in the Caribbean, South East of the USA and East of Cuba.  Its capital city is Port-au-Prince.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia


The earthquake was caused by the North American Plate sliding past the Caribbean Plate at a conservative plate margin.  Both plates move in the same direction, but one moves faster than the other.  The pressure that was built up because of the friction between the 2 plates was eventually released causing a magnitude 7 earthquake on the Richter Scale with an epicentre 16 miles West of Port-au-Prince and a shallow focus of 5 miles.  The earthquake struck at 16:53 (4:53pm) local time on Tuesday 12 January 2010.


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Primary (caused directly by the earthquake)

Secondary (result from primary effects)

316,000 people were killed and 1 million people were made homeless.  3 million people were affected by the earthquake 1 in 5 people lost their jobs because so many buildings were destroyed.  Haiti’s largest industry, clothing was one of the worst affected
250,000 homes and 30,000 other buildings, including the President’s Palace and 60% of government buildings, were either destroyed or badly damaged The large number of deaths meant that hospitals and morgues became full and bodies then had to be piled up on the streets
Transport and communication links were also badly damaged by the earthquake The large number of bodies meant that diseases, especially cholera, became a serious problem
Hospitals (50+) and schools (1,300+) were badly damaged, as was the airport’s control tower It was difficult getting aid into the area because of issues at the airport and generally poor management of the situation
The main prison was destroyed and 4,000 inmates escaped People were squashed into shanty towns or onto the streets because their homes had been destroyed leading to poor sanitation and health, and looting became a real problem


Development Indicator


GDP per capita (average income) $1,200 per person each year
People living in poverty 80% of people live on $2 or less per day
Life expectancy 62 years old
People per doctor 0.25 doctors per 1,000 people
Adult literacy rate 53% over 15 years old can read/write
Access to clean water 46% of people have access to clean water


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Short Term

Long Term

$100 million in aid given by the USA and $330 million by the European Union 98% of the rubble on the roads hadn’t been cleared restricting aid access
810,000 people placed in aid camps 1 million people still without houses after 1 year so still have to live in aid camps
115,000 tents and 1,000,000+ tarpaulin shelters provided Support for people without jobs, which equates to nearly 70% of the population, through cash/food-for-work projects
Healthcare supplies provided to limit disease Temporary schools created and new teachers trainee
Lack of immediate aid through poor planning, management and access meant that people had to try and rescue each other Water and sanitation eventually supplied for 1.7 million people
4.3 million people provided with food rations in the weeks following the earthquake

Useful Documents

Primary and secondary effects of the Haiti earthquake