One island, two worlds
Although the Dominican Republic and Haiti share the same island, they could not be more different
Hurricanes have arrived at the Española, however, the effects on both countries are remarkably distant. During 2004, Hurricane Jeanne arrived on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic. According to the National Hurricane Center, 3.000 thousand people died in Haiti and only 19 deaths were reported in the neighboring country.
These are some of the key differences between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that may contribute to the resilient capacity contrast between these two nations.
Haiti’s economic background has majorly contributed to the high rates of deforestation in the western part of the island. The country’s forest coverage has now reduced to 4% of the total area making the Caribbean country one of the most deforested in the world. The destruction of Haiti’s natural forest is a result of intensive logging and agriculture.
Haitians do not count with a regular supply of electricity, thusly, timber is used to supply their energy needs. The burning of wood is not only a major contributor to global warming but it also imposes a great amount of pressure on forests. Contrary to the Dominican Republic, were tourism is the principal economic activity, Haiti relies mostly on agriculture which exacerbates deforestation rates as shown in the picture below.
The absence of woodland cover makes the impact of storms and hurricanes even greater compared to the neighboring Dominican Republic. In this country, the amount of nature with in the DR stands as a natural buffer against wind and rain. Moreover, the deep roots of trees help counter the occurrence and severity of landslides which become a major concern, specially during rainy seasons.
Haiti’s economic activities and an unprecedented deforestation rates have proven to the world the importance of the conservation of natural resources to combat the effects of extreme weather events. However, Haiti’s problem does not end there, high population rates and limited institutional capacities are among the overlapping factors that contribute to the nation’s deteriorated socioeconomic and environmental conditions.
Latin American Post | Laura Iguavita
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto