Haiti earthquake: 10 years later – Facts, FAQs and how to help

Updated Aug 16, 2021
On January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit an area about 25 kilometres from Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. In the aftermath of the disaster, between 220,000 and 300,000 people lost their lives and up to three million people were severely impacted, creating the worst humanitarian crisis the country has faced to date.

Ten years later, Haiti is still struggling to fully recover from the earthquake and subsequent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Explore facts and frequently asked questions about the earthquake and learn how you can help people in Haiti.
  1. The earthquake and aftermath
  2. How did World Vision respond?
  3. How is Haiti today?
  4. Is World Vision still working in Haiti?
  5. How can I help the people of Haiti?

1. The earthquake and aftermath
The earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010 registered at 7.0 magnitude, with its epicentre 25 kilometres away from Port-au-Prince, the most densely populated area in the country. The tremor caused severe damage at ground level because it occurred at a fairly shallow depth of 13 kilometres below the surface. The quake was also felt in parts of the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

On the same day, two aftershocks of magnitudes 5.9 and 5.5 followed. Several aftershocks occurred over the following days, including a 5.9-magnitude quake that struck on January 20 at Petit Goâve, a town 55 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince.

A map of Haiti showing the epicenter of the earthquake that struck the country in 2010
The epicentre of the earthquake. Photo: Wikimidia Commons

Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas sustained significant damage due to Haiti’s poor infrastructure and lack of building codes. Multi-storey concrete buildings collapsed as well as thousands of homes, displacing up to 1.5 million people. Almost 4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. The Inter-American Development Bank estimated that the disaster incurred between $7.8 billion and $8.5 billion in damage. This figure could be as much as $13.9 billion over time.

The recovery has been slow. As of May 2018, close to 38,000 people, of which 70 per cent were women and children, were still living in displacement camps.

People survey ruins of homes destroyed by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 2010.
Homes destroyed in the aftermath of the earthquake. Photo: Jon Warren

2. How did World Vision respond?
World Vision had worked in Haiti for 30 years prior to the earthquake in 2010. Due to that presence, World Vision staff, mostly Haitian nationals, were able to start responding to the disaster within minutes by distributing pre-positioned emergency supplies. That would initiate World Vision’s largest single-country disaster response in the organization’s history.

During the first 90 days following the quake, the World Vision response team assisted almost 2 million people. The team worked to provide basic services such as food assistance, shelter and water. Between 2010 and 2015, World Vision’s work assisted thousands of Haitians to recover. Among the results of the efforts are:
  • 2 million people received food aid.
  • More than 200,000 people received emergency shelter.
  • 250,000 students participated in school feeding programs in more than 800 schools.
  • 300,000 people benefited from cholera treatment and prevention programs.
  • 90,000 displaced people in camps received potable water for close to 24 months.
  • 19,000 farmers were trained in better agriculture techniques to increase crop yields.
  • 10 schools were constructed.
  • 30 Child Friendly Spaces served nearly 8,000 children.
Four Haitian school-aged girls smile to the camera
Girls participate in activities at a World Vision Child Friendly Space in Port-au-Prince. Photo: Paul Bettings

World Vision continues to be present in the country, working to improve the lives of children, families and their communities. Learn more about World Vision’s work in Haiti.

3. How is Haiti today?
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world – and the poorest in the western hemisphere. Even prior to the earthquake, Haiti has been marred by multiple challenges, such as having one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world and poor access to clean water, sanitation, health care and electricity. These problems are aggravated by political and economic instability, and constant episodes of natural disasters.

According to the World Food Programme, Haiti ranks 4th among the countries most affected by extreme weather events. After the 2010 earthquake, the country was impacted by other natural disasters, such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The Category 4 hurricane caused heavy flooding, landslides and the destruction of infrastructure and agricultural crops. At the time, about 1.4 million people required humanitarian assistance.

Mothers and children at a camp for displaced people in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010.
Families that became displaced went on to live in tent cities under harsh circumstances. Photo: Jon Warren

With a current population of 10.9 million people, 49 per cent of Haitians are considered undernourished, 39 per cent over the age of 10 are illiterate, and one million people are in a situation classified as emergency.

Children in Haiti are also vulnerable to poverty and exploitation. According to official data, 22 per cent of children are chronically malnourished, 10 per cent are underweight and 66 per cent of children under five years old suffer from anemia. Moreover, two out of 10 children do not attend primary school.

4. Is World Vision still working in Haiti?
In spite of the many challenges, World Vision remains on the ground accomplishing its work in the areas of child protection, health, education, water and livelihoods. As a result, in the past couple of years:
  • 21,919 people received food aid;
  • 3,774 children were vaccinated against preventable diseases;
  • 100 farmers learned techniques to improve crop and livestock production;
  • 4 schools were renovated, and 4 others received tools and resources;
  • 9,476 people have safe water for drinking and cooking.

5. How can I help the people of Haiti?
To date, World Vision continues to walk alongside Haitians to rebuild their nation by strengthening their communities. You can be a part of this work by sponsoring a child in Haiti. Child sponsorship helps provide vulnerable children with essentials such as food, clean water, education and health care.

You can also support our emergency response efforts. Those funds help World Vision to provide timely emergency food, water, medicine, shelter and other supplies to children and families affected by disasters like the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

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