Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti in Crises: Earthquake Meets Deforestation

Haiti Earthquake 13.01.10

Image by caritasinternationalis via Flickr

Even before last Tuesday's devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, the island nation had been going through several years of political strife, economic embargoes and natural disasters. There had been one disaster after the other in the past years, from diseases to mudslides, to floods. And the list grows taller and taller.

With a legacy of been the most deforested nation in the world (97% deforested), Haitians practically live a life of meal to meal and not even day to day. For most, survival means cutting down trees for charcoal, which they either sell or use for heating and cooking.

Massive floods have fueled erosion that has crippled the agricultural industry in Haiti, not leaving that of transportation. Many roads have been washed out and people usually develop cold feet when they have to travel. For even the brave travelers, one cannot consider closing his or her eyes to catch a quick nap, considering the many dangers associated with traveling on the devastated roads. Watch this.

And all this was before the breath-taking earthquake, which has left over a hundred thousand people dead. One wonders whether the nation can be able to recover from this hit, and even if it can, how long this will take. With several infrastructure completely wiped out, who will have the peace of mind to think of environmental sustainability when there is no place to lay one's head?.

In other related news, singer Wyclef Jean's YĆ©le Haiti Organisation has raised more than $400,000 to support restoration of victims. Donations of $5 are made by texting "Yele" to "501501" (Does this work in Africa? Someone tell me please). Similar efforts by Red Cross has raised over $800,000, and this is also by texting "Haiti" to the number "90999", which results in a $10 donation. Readers are however warned of people who will use this to promote several online scums to enrich themselves. Beware.

An Akan proverb says "If you see the beard of your friend in flames, you better fetch water and place it by yours". As we help restore Haitians in various ways, let's also remember to promote environmental sustainability in our own small ways.

Our consolations to the good people of Haiti.

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