Natural Hazard Risk
Haiti is one of the most exposed countries in the world to natural hazards that include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and droughts. From 1994-2013, Haiti was considered the third most affected country by extreme weather events in terms of lives lost and economic damages. More than 96 percent of the population is at risk of two or more hazards, and 56 percent of the country’s GDP is linked to areas exposed to risk from two or more hazards. The impact can be extensive. The 2010 earthquake caused over 200,000 deaths. Damages and losses were equivalent to 120 percent of Haiti’s GDP.
Urban and rural populations in coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to climate and natural hazard events. Natural hazard risks are further exacerbated by inadequate building codes and a lack of regulatory enforcement.
In the past seven years, Haiti has scaled up efforts to integrate disaster risk management (DRM) into national policies and long-term development plans. In particular, it has made building a better and safer Haiti a priority in its long-term development strategy.
Following the 2010 earthquake, the government conducted a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) and created an Action Plan for the National Recovery and Development of Haiti. They recommended that DRM be a cross-cutting priority for both public and private sectors. DRM is also a key cross-cutting priority in the government’s Strategic Development Plan of Haiti (PSDH). As part of its first pillar on “territorial rebuilding,” the PSDH emphasizes regional and local development as well as improved DRM through better land-use planning.
Haiti has also taken steps to strengthen its fiscal resilience to natural hazard shocks by becoming a member of the multi-country risk-pooling Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) SPC.
To further advance the DRM agenda, government priorities include:
- Mainstreaming DRM activities into all growth, development, and poverty reduction strategies;
- Creating an enabling environment for DRM with appropriate legal and institutional governance frameworks;
- Nurturing a better understanding of current and future disaster risks;
- Improving hazard and risk data management systems;
- Strengthening hydrometeorological services;
- Integrating risk analysis and management in land-use planning and sector investments;
- Building resilient infrastructure and communities in both primary and secondary cities; and,
- Improving disaster preparedness and recovery readiness efforts.
Over the past seven years, GFDRR has helped the Government of Haiti move from a culture of disaster response to one of prevention and vulnerability reduction. Most activities have supported the acquisition, management, and dissemination of risk data, as well as preparedness, early warning and response, and the integration of a resilience approach in priority development sectors.
Early activities provided technical assistance for developing a central inter-agency DRM coordination unit and supporting government-led assessment and recovery efforts following Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike.
Following the January 2010 earthquake, GFDRR supported the government in conducting a PDNA and helped facilitate recovery and reconstruction activities. As part of this effort, GFDRR enabled activities that helped the government create a technical unit for building assessments, which led to the evaluation of 400,000 buildings after the earthquake. It also supported the development of seismic retrofitting guidelines, a National Action Plan for Safe Schools, and a Guide for Disaster Resilience of Health Facilities in 2011.
In addition, GFDRR has helped enable the consolidation of risk data and information as part of a hazard, exposure, and vulnerability database platform. This tool is helping improve decision-making on safe resettlement and housing. GFDRR is expanding these efforts by supporting new activities that make risk data more accessible.
GFDRR has also helped the country strengthen its ability to collect, manage, and consolidate hydromet data from different hydromet networks. In 2015, GFDRR financed the development of a pilot platform that used SMS to systematically collect, analyze, archive, and disseminate rainfall data from more than 100 agro-meteorological stations across the country. The platform focused on local need, sustainability, and reusability.
GFDRR is currently supporting activities to inform Haiti’s urban policy design and implementation for more resilient and inclusive urban development. GFDRR is also beginning to support activities that ensure resilience and climate change adaptation are incorporated into urban development programs, flood risk management projects, and fiscal management strategies. These activities will inform a $45 million World Bank project in Haiti and create an improved knowledge and analytic base.
Looking ahead, GFDRR anticipates new and continued demand for:
- Risk reduction in the urban built environment and transport network connectivity;
- Understanding urbanization, risks, and vulnerabilities;
- Understanding the relationship between poverty and disasters;
- Increasing fiscal resilience through building technical and institutional capacity;
- Strengthening disaster risk data management and information sharing;
- Strengthening hydromet services; and,
- Systematizing the quantification of disaster losses and damages.