Nearly Half of Haiti in Ruins After Earthquake and Gang Violence: See What You Can Do to Help

Foreign Policy Brief #130 | By: Erin Mayer | September 9, 2021

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Policy Summary

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The August 14th earthquake in Haiti left over 2,200 deaths and 12,000 injuries in it’s wake. Approximately 53,000 homes were decimated and an additional 77,000 other dwellings were damaged. The island nation has struggled to get back on it’s feet following the catastrophe of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

The earthquake occurred two months after gang violence swept the nation impacting over 1.5 million people, displacing at least 19,000 citizens around Port-Au-Prince and just a mere five weeks following the assassination of President Moïse.

Following the escalating gang violence and the devastation caused by natural disasters nearly half of the Haitian population, or over 4.4 million people, are experiencing critical food insecurity. 7,000 Haitian citizens are living in camps. Those who reside in the areas most devasted by the earthquake, such as Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes, or approximately 1.6 million people, are in direly require emergency humanitarian aid.

Following the August earthquake, Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a state of emergency. “When it comes to medical needs, this is our biggest urgency,” Henry said in a news conference.We have started to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected.”

WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Lola Castro, reported the the current conditions in Haiti as devastating. “Their houses have been reduced to dust. Public buildings like schools, churches and hotels where they could have found temporary shelter have also been destroyed,” Castro stated.   

“The earthquake rattled people who were already struggling to feed their families due to economic and climate shocks, and insecurity. The compound effects of multiple crises are devastating communities in the south faced with some of the highest levels of food insecurity in the country”.

Policy Analysis

President Joe Biden said during a press conference that he was “saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud Haiti…” The President continued on by sending “our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed.”

In regards on how the United States intends to help the neighboring island nations, the President stated, “I have authorized an immediate U.S. response and named United States Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power as the senior U.S. official to coordinate this effort. Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild. The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti, and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development plans to release $32 million to fund earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, in the hopes that this amount  will assist in financing shelters, food aid and medical assistance. 

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Photo taken from: Ocha

However, this number falls quite below the amount the United Nations believes is required for the Haiti to recoverSamantha Powerthe Administrator of the Agency for International Development announced the disbursement with Haiti’s interim prime minister, Dr. Ariel Henry, during a press conference in Port-au-Prince. USAID has since released over 160,000 pounds of food. Over 400 Haitians requiring intensive medical attention have been flown to Port-au-Prince. The agency also facilitated the construction of field hospitals and temporary shelters to assist during this tumultuous time.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has arranged to supply food assistance to approximately 215,000 Haitians. By the end of August, WFP has offered in excess of 15,000 meals to the 48,000 people they have served.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.

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Project HOPE‘s emergency response team is on the ground, assessing survivors’ needs, delivering antibiotics and activating local Haitian medical teams to help overwhelmed hospitals.


Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are on the ground in Haiti to respond to the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the country on Saturday, August 14. More than 2,200 people have been killed and more than 12,000 injured, according to Haitian authorities.


HELPs mission is to create, through merit and needs based scholarships, a community of young professionals and leaders who will promote a more just society in Haiti.


Hope for Haiti is focused on providing support and partnership for the Haitian people, specifically children, every single day. 

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