News / Americas

UN: Environmental Degradation in Haiti Made Worse by Earthquake

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 15 Jan 2010, after a magnitude 7 earthquake hit the country on 12 Jan 2010
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 15 Jan 2010, after a magnitude 7 earthquake hit the country on 12 Jan 2010

The United Nations Environment Program warns Haiti's recovery process will be greatly constrained if the environmental degradation suffered during the catastrophic earthquake is not adequately taken care of.  UNEP says cleaning up Haiti's environmental mess will be long, difficult, and expensive.

The program says Haiti was the poorest and most environmentally degraded country in the Caribbean before the earthquake struck in mid-January.  

It says Haiti's rural environment was largely destroyed, making it difficult to fully feed its population.  It says the damaged water collecting devices made the country vulnerable to flooding and other natural disasters.  It says there is extensive soil erosion in Haiti and only three percent of the country's original forest cover is left.

UNEP Program Manager for Haiti, Andrew Morton, says the earthquake has brought with it a great many new environmental problems. "Well, as you all know, there are literally millions of tons of debris from fallen buildings, which is not just concrete, but everything that is contained in a building, as you see here - wood, plastic, metal, clothing, everything.  We have a major increase in municipal and health care waste.  A burst of medical activity means we have probably tripled the volume of health care waste and, of course, as we clean up, the volume of municipal waste goes up.  And, I have to say, as the relief effort comes in with its several hundred millions of dollars of aid, it is adding to the waste burden as well."   

Morton has been in Haiti since the earthquake hit and he will be going back to the country next week to supervise the work that needs to be done. He describes the challenges ahead as huge.

For instance, he notes, prior to the earthquake health care waste was disposed of by burning or by trucking it to a landfill site.  He says it then was torn apart by scavengers who make a living by recycling waste.  

"So, what we do not want is for health care waste to go that way.  So, what we needed, of course, was some way of separating the waste and also treating it in a hygienic manner.  So, the actual practical measures which were put in place, we imported a large number of containers for the segregation of the waste and we looked at buying fuel for the incinerators that are already there, so that they can start up again.  That is just a small example of a practical problem and a practical solution," he said.  

Morton says a bigger problem for which UNEP has not yet found a solution is transitional shelter.  This, he says, is designed to shelter half a million people for up to two years.  He says they will be made out of tin and timber.

However, the problem is there is no timber in Haiti.  Morton says the solution to this is the bulk importation of timber.  But, this is very expensive and will only be possible if the aid community decides to support this project.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Miss Colombia Takes Miss Universe Crown

Paulina Vega is the first contestant from Colombia to win since 1958
More

Honduran President Hails Drop in Murder Rate

Juan Orlando Hernandez says deployment of special military police has cut country's murder rate, one of the world's highest, by 23 percent
More

Thousands of Venezuelan Opposition Supporters Protest in Caracas

Angry about inflation and shortages of goods, they want an end to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro
More

Haiti Electoral Council Called 'New Step' Toward Democracy

Impoverished Caribbean nation has not held legislative or municipal elections for three years, is due for presidential election at year's end
More

Argentine Government Thinks Rogue Agents Killed Prosecutor

Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, was found fatally shot last Sunday
More

In Shortages-hit Venezuela, Lining Up Becomes a Profession

Job usually involves starting before dawn, enduring long hours, dodging or bribing police, and then selling a coveted spot at front of huge shopping lines
More