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Urban disasters – lessons from Haiti
Haiti’s earthquake of 12th January 2010 killed over 220 000 people, injured 300.000, left well over one million homeless, and destroyed infrastructure, services and homes. The cost of reconstruction is estimated at US$11.5 billion. This happened in a country already the poorest in the western hemisphere, ranked 149 out of 182 countries on the 2009 Human Development Index, with some 78% of its population living on under US$2 a day, and beset by huge societal inequality and weak governance.
While recognising the effects of the disaster on the whole country, this study is required to focus on the impact within urban areas, and to ask, what can be learnt for international NGOs for the next urban disaster?
Agencies need to learn ‘new rules of the game’ in urban pre and post-disaster response. Issues of complexity, range of actors, space, the importance of commerce and trade, services, infrastructure and sheer concentrations of people require a consideration of how to operate compared to rural contexts, including collaborations (with government and the private sector), the importance of cash based programmes, markets and housing.
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