‘Things have gotten worse’: Weary Haitians approach a somber anniversary

Photograph by Alice Smeets, laif/Redux
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The 2010 earthquake claimed 316,000 lives. The country has endured many broken promises in the decade since.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provided a grant to support the reporting for this story.

Standing in front of the earthquake-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, Ketly Paul looked at the faded ruins where stained-glass windows and pews once stood.

Haiti’s devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake claimed an estimated 316,000 lives, left 1.5 million injured and another 1.5 million homeless when it struck 15 miles southwest of the capital.

But Paul, like many Haitians, thought the flood of humanitarian aid and $13.3 billion pledges from the international community would rebuild the cathedral, secure housing for her after her home collapsed, and make life better in the volatile nation.

Instead, ten years later, Haiti remains a long way from recovery, mired in political conflict that has bankrupt businesses, soured the economy, and dampened the enthusiasm of foreign donors who once rushed to help with its reconstruction.

While the rubble and makeshift tent cities that once blanketed Port-au-Prince are gone, some have turned into permanent settlements with no power, no sanitation, no security, for more than 32,000 quake survivors.

Two of the country’s most iconic structures—the cathedral and the presidential palace—still have not been rebuilt. And six years after construction began on a new $100 million public hospital, promised by the United States and France, the complex emains an empty shell, the work temporarily halted due to a dispute over money.

Paul, a 47-year-old mother of five, still finds herself living under a tarp just steps away from Notre-Dame. Few permanent houses...

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