Lessons from Haiti

January 22, 2010

Natural disasters impact those that are the least prepared the hardest. The earthquake that recently struck Haiti may end up killing 200,000 people – an astonishing and devastating figure. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The country has had high rates of TB, AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases. The country’s systems are less than adequate on a good day – meaning that access to essential government services like emergency services and building code enforcement is lacking. These and many other factors left Haiti especially vulnerable to a natural disaster. The poorly constructed buildings crumbled easily. Without extensive foreign aid, Haiti would have tremendous difficulty trying to rebuild. There is a lesson for the potential impacts of climate change, in the fact that climate change is expected to have many negative effects such as more heat waves, rising sea levels and other potential natural disasters that should raise concern for the world. While some countries are more prepared to handle these impacts than others, these effects most adversely affect developing countries and those who may be in poverty. You can learn more about the linkage between climate change and poverty or economic development by visiting this site, Live Climate, which is a nonprofit program of The world needs to respond as quickly as possible to the needs of Haiti, while ensuring that it learns lessons from the disaster and be more prepared for the future, including the expected effects of climate change.