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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More

Photogallery Fans Pay Tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Mexico City

Colombian Nobel laureate author died in Mexico on Thursday at age 87
More

Venezuelan Protesters Burn Leaders in Effigy

Hundreds take to streets of Caracas Easter Sunday demanding ‘resurrection of democracy; President Maduro’s image among those burnt
More

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More