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Haiti’s vulnerability to earthquakes: the case for a historical perspective and a better analysis of risks
Yvio Georges and François Grünewald

 

 IV - Conclusion

The earthquake of 12 January 2010, which caused more damage than any other disaster in Haiti’s history, may finally make decision-makers, planners and national operators take this question seriously.

As the earthquake further weakened the state in every department, the international community should mobilise the necessary means to allow the state to not only organise resilient development, but also become resilient itself.

As every sector was affected (social, productive and infrastructure), this event should lead to the development of a new risk management culture for the population, business and political decision-makers. The lessons which have emerged for the future particularly concern the planning of living areas and land management. Areas at risk from earthquakes should be mapped, construction norms should be established and respected, information should be made available and awareness should be raised amongst the public about the hazards which affect them, etc.

It is not possible to stop the earth from trembling and tectonic fault lines from moving. But we can limit the impact that the movement of the earth’s crust has on societies and people. Earthquakes should not be this deadly every time. We owe it to the victims of the tragedy of 12 January not to allow this question to end up in the dustbin of history.

 

Yvio GEORGES, Haitian engineer, risk management expert and teacher at the University of Port-au-Prince.
François GRUNEWALD, Executive Director of Groupe URD