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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Building Haiti’s Defenses Against Natural Disasters

Over the past 21 years, Haiti has been hit by 40 cyclones, thunderstorms and heavy rains. Each year on average two events cause flooding and landslides with serious consequences for people and their livelihoods.

    Natural Disasters

    Throughout its history, Haiti has suffered cyclones, hurricanes, tropical storms, floods and earthquakes. The hurricane season in Haiti lasts from June to the end of November. The January 2010 earthquake flattened parts of the capital, killed at least 90,000 people, and displaced more than 1.5 million. 

    Poor infrastructure, deforestation and failure to prepare for earthquakes and storms all put the island at very high risk.

    One possible approach is to recreate Armed Forces that are focused on disaster response. Another is to focus on the natural disaster preparedness and response.

    Setting up an armed force

    Economist-Planner and Project Analyst Rudy Joseph at the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation has conducted a benefit-cost analysis of the re-introduction of a patrol force. This force will be given the mission of defending the territory, protecting sensitive environmental areas, and responding to natural disasters. 

    Integrated Management of Risks and Disasters in Haiti

    Consultant George Granvorka studies approaches to reducing Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters: implementing an Early Flood Warning System (SAPI) in the 65 municipalities at risk of flooding, and combining this with Multifunction Shelters to protect people and livestock.