Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti's agony

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. Decades of poor governance, dictators, hurricanes have all contributed to the country's desperate status. The country is at the same latitude as northern Luzon. And like the Philippines is in the path of tropical cyclones and is earthquake prone.

The country is the first independent republic in the Caribbean declaring its freedom from France. But due to political instability, the US occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. French and American intervention in the past remains in the nation's consciousness.

Widespread poverty has contributed to widespread deforestation. In the 1920s Haiti had 60% forest cover. In 2010 it had >2%. It is mountainous in the interior.

Loss of precious topsoil reduced crop productivity, worsening the chronic food security problem. This also is the major factor in the recent devastating floods that hit the country in the last 2 years.

And now comes the deadly earthquake. The buildings and houses in Haiti look so much like what Filipinos have in the provinces. A similar temblor would result in the same or if not, worse damage to the Philippines.

And they say such cannot happen in the Philippines. The Philippines in a lot of ways is Haiti. On the environmental side, each and every earthquake prone Philippine island is a Haiti

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