A ruined street in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince appeared much the same on September 30, 2010, (bottom) as it did seven months earlier—shortly after the devastating Haiti earthquake on January 12, 2010, which the local government estimates killed more than 220,000 people.
The magnitude 7.0 temblor destroyed more than 97,000 homes and damaged more than 188,000 structures, displacing 1.3 million people.
Some Haitian buildings have been rebuilt, as seen in combination photos from February 2010 (top) and September 2010. But Florida International University's Richard Olson said many such efforts are problematic.
"We are one year on, and Haiti doesn't have a building code or an enforcement mechanism. It doesn't have a risk or hazard-sensitive set of land-use regulations or an enforcement mechanism," said Olson, who directs the Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas Program, funded by the federal Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.
"So what's going on is what we used to call stovepipe reconstruction, where certain areas and types of structures are being reconstructed or built anew but there is no overall plan. Because, among other things, it's really unclear if there is a Haitian government at this point."
Julie Colin weaves hair at her makeshift beauty salon on November 30, 2010, in the tent camp that has overtaken Port-au-Prince's Petionville Club golf course. The estimated one million Haitians still living in camps are making do as best they can, and Colin told the Reuters news service that her business was steady.
The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on October 19 that more than half of all households in Haiti's earthquake-affected areas are "food insecure." Those homes include nearly half a million children under five and almost 200,000 pregnant or nursing women.
Olson said rapid and unchecked population growth, particularly around the capital, was a big problem exposed by the Haitiearthquake.
"The population of greater Port-au-Prince in the mid-1980s was about 800,000 or maybe 1 million,” Olson said. "At the time of the earthquake the population of greater Port-au-Prince was somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million.
"Now stop and think about how that growth could possibly have been safely accommodated, given Haiti's governance capability. It wasn't, and buildings went up without any attention to building codes or land use."
Photograph by Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Haiti Cathedral: Before and After?
A Port-au-Prince cathedral lies in the same state of disarray in a March 2010 photo (top) and a September 2010 image, illustrating how little progress has been made in some earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti.
Olson said Haitians were especially hard-hit because of a very simple fact—governance.
"Look at the [September 2010] New Zealand earthquake, which was also magnitude 7.0 and, I think, had two injuries. Chile's monster quake [in February 2010] had only 500 or 600 people killed, and at least a third of them were from the tsunami." (See "Deadly Tsunami Swarm Hit Haiti After Quake, Experts Say.")
"In Haiti you have a lack of building codes and enforcement capability, and you have 220,000 people killed. I'm afraid Haiti occupies the wrong end of the continuum"
Photographs by Eduardo Munoz, Reuters
On November 4, 2010, United Nations soldiers from Colombia and Peru evacuated Haitian children from the Corail-Cesselesse refugee camp for earthquake survivors.
A day later, Hurricane Tomas struck the island. Haitian authorities said eight people were killed by the storm, which was the latest in a long string of natural disasters to strike the island country.
Photograph by Ariana Cubillos, AP
Siblings in the Snow
Cora and Isaac Fletcher frolic in the snow in New York State with their mother and Seveil, their newly adopted sibling from Haiti, on December 17, 2010.
In the wake of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, with many survivors subjected to dangerous living conditions, U.S. bureaucrats cut through red tape to speed up adoption procedures that have relocated some 1,150 Haitian children to homes across the United States.
Photograph by David Duprey, AP
A cholera victim holds his IV bag during treatment in Robine, Haiti, on October 23, 2010. Governments and international organizations are struggling to improve health conditions and rebuild infrastructure in Haiti, Olson said.
"Accountability becomes very murky," he said. "You have bilateral donors, you have multilateral donors, you have NGOs. And without a governance structure in Haiti to require accountability of itself and everybody else involved, you don't know how money is being spent or who is accountable."
Photograph by Ramon Espinosa, AP
Relatives of a cholera victim accompany a coffin on its final journey in Robine, Haiti, on October 23.
Aid efforts, including clean-water distribution and medical treatment, have helped to lower the epidemic's death rate substantially. Initial fatality rates of 7.6 percent had fallen to less than half that by December 2010, according to UN statistics.
Photograph by Ramon Espinosa, AP
A Port-au-Prince airstrip that once handled the comings and goings of international aircraft has become a tent camp where earthquake victims, such as this woman pictured on December 1, wait for change.
"Without a [strong governmental] structure and the ability to make decisions in Haiti, everything just kind of sits there," Olson said.
Photograph by Guillermo Arias, AP
Democracy Is Messy
While Haiti's future hangs in the balance, a child sprawls among countless ballots at a polling station set up for the national election on November 29, 2010.
The country's recovery is greatly hampered by its unsettled political situation. Preliminary election results sparked bursts of violence, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concerns about possible election fraud.