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Mortality, crime and access to basic needs before and after the Haiti earthquake

In: Medicine, Conflict and Survival. Vol 26, Issue 4.

Authors: Athena R. Kolbe; Royce A. Hutson; Harry Shannon; Eileen Trzcinski; Bart Miles; Naomi Levitz; Marie Puccio; Leah James; Jean Roger Noel; Robert Muggah

Co-authored by Small Arms Survey's Robert Muggah, this paper reports on a survey of mortality, crime, violence and access to basic needs in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, and measures the effects of the devastating earthquake in January 2010.

The Small Arms Survey supported a survey of 1,800 households in metropolitan Port-au-Prince during the summer of 2009. Six weeks after the 2010 earthquake, the researchers undertook a rapid assessment of the same households in order to determine the consequences of the earthquake on the population of the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The survey examined deaths and injuries generated by the natural disaster, as well as the character of victimization, food security and living arrangements following the quake. The original 2009 survey featured a 90 per cent response rate; in 2010 93 per cent
of these households were re-interviewed.

The 2010 survey challenges media reports of between 200,000-300,000 deaths arising from the 2010 earthquake. Rather, the survey estimated 158,679 deaths in Port-au-Prince either during the quake or in the six-week period afterwards owing to injuries or illness. Children were at particular risk for death. In the six weeks after the earthquake, 10,813 people were sexually assaulted, the vast majority of whom were female. In the same period 4,645 individuals were physically assaulted. Of all households, 18.6 per cent were experiencing severe food insecurity six weeks after the earthquake. 24.4 per cent of respondents' homes were completely destroyed.

Overall, the survey highlights both the short- and medium- to long-term consequences of the 2010 natural disaster on Haitians. It finds that many residents of Port-au-Prince died during or as a result of the earthquake, albeit fewer than were widely reported. However, it stresses how more than half of the capital's population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity, even if remittances from countries such as Canada and the US are a major protective factor in promoting food security. The survey demonstrates that survivors continue to experience high levels of sexual assault and limited access to durable shelter.



Armed Violence   :   Social and Economic Costs  :  Impact on Development

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