February 17, 2010

Haiti Homeless Demand Shelter

The chart below shows month to month variations in the climate at Port au Prince, the capital of earthquake stricken Haiti.  Look carefully at the dark green "precipitation" graph:

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti Climate graph contributed by climatetemp.info

The month of January when the earthquake hit is the driest of the year. By the time May arrives average rainfall is seven times as much.

An early foretaste of the rainy season to come happened last Thursday. According to Reuters:

The overnight downpour and a noisy, early morning protest by several hundred Haitians at the U.N. mission headquarters brought into sharp focus simmering anger over the dire need for shelter in the poorest country in the Americas.

Haiti is in a race against time to move survivors from the rudimentary homes they have fashioned out of plastic tarps, bedsheets and panels of corrugated zinc.

"They've been collecting money for Haiti around the world. Many millions have been collected. But we are still in misery," Jean-Max Seraphin, 25, said as he stood near the sodden cotton bedsheets that serve as his home in downtown Port-au-Prince.

"If millions have been collected, why don't they buy tents? Our children will be sick. We will be sick. And more people are going to die."

Here's the problem. If the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in Haiti don't get decent shelter before the tropical rainy season arrives in a few short weeks they will find themselves paddling in other peoples excrement. The rainy season is then followed by the Caribbean hurricane season.

Sanitation in the nearly 500 spontaneous encampments that have grown up around teeming, chaotic Port-au-Prince is woeful and health officials say they are seeing increasing cases of tetanus, dengue and other ailments.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said this week the government has "no clear vision" of how to move 1 million people into better temporary shelters, and said it could be a decade before Haiti can build 250,000 homes to replace those destroyed.

If you would like to do what you can to help then please take a look at our suggestions for how to help Haiti.

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