Last year’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was all-consuming for a time, dominating the news and mobilizing compassion from all corners of the world. During those first few months, it was hard to imagine that Haiti’s suffering could fall off the radar.
But shortly after Haiti’s one-year anniversary came fresh disasters—New Zealand’s earthquake and Japan’s quake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. Scenes of destruction in formerly functional cities, tragic stories, and the threat of radiation riveted media attention and provoked fears that something this bad could happen to us. (And then it did, with last month’s killer storms and tornadoes in the U.S. South.)
The cover of the Summer 2011 World Vision Magazine delivers a message about Haiti that at one time would have seemed inconceivable: Forget Me Not. The cover story explains what was different and extraordinarily difficult about Haiti’s disaster response and addresses the very valid question of why things are still in such rough shape there, 16 months later.
Comparisons can sometimes bring clarity. This infographic on page 22 of the Summer 2011 magazine lines up disasters in Haiti, New Zealand, and Japan, examining factors such as preparedness, economic realities, and the national government’s ability to respond — factors that, to a greater extent than magnitude and epicenter, affect a quake’s severity.
The data (which was changing even as we worked on this summer’s issue) inevitably drives to Haiti’s death toll, which was at least eight times higher than Japan’s highest estimates, and 1,000 times greater than New Zealand’s fatalities. The bottom line: poverty magnifies a disaster’s impact exponentially and cripples people’s ability to rebound.
Crises will keep coming, but please, don’t forget Haiti.