On 14 August at 8:30 am local time, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the south-western coast of Haiti causing large-scale damage across the country’s southern peninsula. The powerful 10 km deep earthquake occurred 13 km southeast of Petit-Troude-Nippes, in the department of Nippes, the same region devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Only two days after the quake, Tropical Depression Grace dumped extremely heavy rains in southern Haiti, causing flooding in the same quake-affected areas.
Despite being much less catastrophic than the 2010 earthquake which left more than 220,000 people dead and 1.5 million injured, the impact of the 14 August earthquake has been devastating. According to the latest reports issued by the Haitian Civil Protection on 21 August, the death toll has now surpassed 2,200 with more than 12,200 people injured. Almost 53,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 77,000 have sustained damage. About 800,000 people have been affected and an estimated 650,000 people – 40 per cent of the 1.6 million people living in the affected departments – are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
The back-to-back disasters are exacerbating preexisting vulnerabilities. At the time of the disaster, Haiti is still reeling from the 7 July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and still facing an escalation in gang violence since June that has affected 1.5 million people, with at least 19,000 displaced in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The compounded effects of an ongoing political crisis, socio-economic challenges, food insecurity and gang violence continue to greatly worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation. Some 4.4 million people, or nearly 46 per cent of the population, face acute food insecurity, including 1.2 million who are in emergency levels (IPC 4) and 3.2 million people at crisis levels (IPC Phase 3). An estimated 217,000 children suffer from moderate-to-severe acute malnutrition.