Haiti: Systemic Crises Before and After the Earthquake

Haiti’s infamous slum of Cite Soleil, while still desperately poor, has seen an increase in safety and security following the breakup of its gangs by UN forces.

This past week, with international focus centered on Haiti, the Pulitzer Center has joined in the global dialogue by drawing attention to the systemic crises that existed in the country before the Jan. 12 earthquake.

We aim to raise awareness of the other issues facing the people affected by this disaster. Our grantees have captured the deplorable conditions of Haiti's national penitentiary, which was among the buildings destroyed by the earthquake, and explored the lives of the child slaves who comprise nearly ten percent of Haiti's youth population.

One of our Twitter followers suggested that we concentrate on Haiti's HIV/AIDS population, given their need for medication and care. The countries of the Caribbean suffer from the highest HIV infection rate outside of sub-Saharan Africa, and Haiti struggles with the highest rate in the region. Antigone Barton and Steve Sapienza reported on the epidemic for the Pulitzer Center. Traveling to Haiti and Dominican Republic, they investigated disparities in infection and treatment and put a human face to the battle against the disease. Their work is featured on the interactive website Heroes of HIV.

The recent outpouring of donations and attention shows that people are concerned about Haiti. Devastating yet often-ignored systemic crises existed there before the earthquake, and they will continue to deserve global attention. It is the Pulitzer Center's goal to encourage sustained awareness about the issues in this small Caribbean nation, as well as in all nations and regions that suffer from systemic crises.