On Saturday October 6, 2018, at 8:12 pm, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit Haiti. The departments that were affected were the North, Northwest and Artibonite. Many other departments—Central Plato, Nip, Southeast, and South—felt the earthquake tremors. People in those areas affected panicked when the earth started shaking because they remembered the traumatic January 12, 2010, earthquake that killed over 250,000 people. Two weeks after the earthquake, there remains a lot of issues. This is a preliminary report about the earthquake’s aftermath.
The Civil Protection Directory in Haiti provided a preliminary report that reported the following:
17 dead (9 Port de Paix, 1 North St. Louis, 7 Growmon)
333 people injured
40 public buildings damaged (schools, hospitals, administration buildings)
Over 1500 houses damaged or destroyed
7,583 families in need of assistance
The Directory’s provisional report does not account for rural communities who need as much help as the people living in the cities.
According to Mr. Claude Preptit Director of the Meteorology Department and expert on earthquakes in Haiti, the earthquakes shouldn’t have caused as much damage as it did. He blames poor infrastructure and bad building practices for the damage and fatalities that occurred on October 6, 2018. He explains that government officials should prepare for disasters like this because Haiti is a country that will continue to experience earthquakes. In 1842, Okap, Haiti had a population of 10,000 habitants and after an earthquake, about 5,000 people perished. These occurrences are not new; however now more than ever because of global warming the natural disasters are increasing. On account of this, Mr. Preptit is advocating for more government resources to save lives. In his opinion, the government should inspect the buildings for good infrastructure practices and provide hospitals and first responders with better equipment and training to help the citizens. Mr. Preptit slogan is “Earthquakes are not fatal once you are prepared.” Being prepared is key and he warns that Haiti should prepare for more earthquakes in the future that may have a magnitude 8 or higher, which could cause tsunamis resulting in even more tragedy.
October 2018 Earthquake IMPACT on Lambi Partners
The North, Northwest, and Artibonite region suffered a lot of damage from the earthquake. The cities that saw the most damage and deaths were Port de Paix and Growmon.
In Growmon, Lambi Fund has multiple partners that participate in livelihood development projects. Sunday, after the earthquake, about 6 partners contacted staff to report on damages and to ask for assistance. Other partners contacted us throughout the week seeking assistance. Partners always contact us because they know whenever there is an emergency in Haiti—flooding, earthquake, drought—Lambi Fund has always helped. Now, however, with less funding available in our organization, the aid to rebuild may be difficult. Nonetheless, we sent the Artibonite monitor to visit partners in the areas most affected as a sign of solidarity and to report on the damages.
Monitor Preliminary Report
So far, 16 projects were affected either directly or indirectly by the earthquake. Mills and grain storage buildings were either damaged or completely destroyed; goat parks were damaged, and/or some goats were killed; and micro-enterprise businesses were ruined because the goods (i.e. food, clothes, or supplies) were either broken, lost, or spoiled. There is a common reality that our partners and their communities face and it is that most of their homes are either damaged with fissures or flattened because of the earthquake. In the rural communities, 40% partners are homeless and are looking to earn money to fix their homes. It is a tough road ahead because partners’ projects and livelihoods are either damaged or nonexistent. Aside from homes being damaged, there are also damaged cisterns that normally bring water to partners’ fields and conserve water for the dry season. The cisterns cracked from the foundation and have various debris like huge rocks that block the water’s path and/or broken pipes that directs the flow of water. There are also damages to canals that bring water to the fields. This daunting situation, not addressed, will result in reduced food production and affect the crop for this season and thereafter. If partners are unable to grow crops to sell, then they will not be able to feed their families and communities that rely on those crops for nourishment will go hungry. There is a sense of urgency that cisterns need to be fixed as soon as possible to at least assure food for the community. Below is our monitor’s onsite reporting of damages suffered by 16 of our partners. This list is incomplete as our monitor continues to visit with 13 more organizations in the area.
As seen in the graph, the most urgent support is needed is the rebuilding of homes, canals, and mills to transform grains. The destroyed mills limit their trade and decreases the money members need to earn to buy provisions for family. Because of the destruction of their livelihoods, members are asking for food and water.
Rainfall in South Haiti
Additionally, the south of Haiti is experiencing abnormal rainfall. Although the south did not feel the tremors, there is a lot of flooding because of a week’s worth of rain and also, the ocean is rising, destroying coastal homes and forcing people to relocate more inland. The rise was due to the tremors after the earthquake.
Although there is much to be rebuilt, partners report to us that they are thankful that a small amount of lives were lost, with one partner saying: “Even though our homes are destroyed and we are living in the streets, God prevented more deaths and we are so thankful.”
Lambi Fund plans to continue gathering information about the earthquake’s aftermath. We will continue to share more information as it arrives and as we define a plan of assistance, within the limit of our resource capacity.