Beyond the mountains, more mountains : disaster response, mass-displacement and the land tenure puzzle in Haiti

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Lopes, Ana Filipa
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The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on the 12th of January 2010 resembles a worst-case scenario turned real. Born out of a slaves-led revolution with no precedent in history, the independent Haiti has ever since been struggling with widespread poverty, chaotic urbanization, environmental degradation, enduring political instability and fragile institutions. As a result, the Caribbean country epitomizes the enormous consequences that can arise when a natural hazard meets man-made patterns of vulnerability. In this regard, increasing emphasis has been placed on the link between Haitian patterns of disaster vulnerability and the country’s dysfunctional land administration system and pervasive land tenure insecurity. Drawing on the Haitian case study, the present research will seek to elaborate on the correlation between land governance and a country’s capacity to mitigate, respond and recover from a natural disaster. The case study analysis will be predominantly based on a review of the testimonies of humanitarian organizations working in this Caribbean nation. All things considered, it will be suggested that land-related issues can substantially amplify the effects of a disaster and constitute one of the main obstacles in the response and recovery process. Addressing land considerations in a timely manner after a disaster is thus deemed a crucial step for adopting a human rights based approach to disaster response and for promoting a sustainable and disaster-resilient development.
Second semester University: University Bochum.
disaster relief, Haiti, disasters, internally displaced persons, international cooperation, land tenure, humanitarian assistance