Five Years Later: Haiti’s Ongoing Recovery from the 2010 Earthquake
Getty Images/Julie Dermansky

Five years after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, poverty and infrastructure troubles still ravage the island nation.

In 2010, the entire world mourned when an earthquake struck Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. More than 300,000 people were killed that day, and millions more would feel the aftermath for years to come. Rubble littered the roadways, and 1.5 million people found themselves living in temporary tents. 

Shortly after the earthquake hit, millions of dollars in donations poured in, and the United Nations allocated $13 billion in funds, reports NBC News. However, though buildings are slowly being rebuilt, reconstruction is far from over.

“Persistent chronic poverty and inequality, environmental degradation and continuing political uncertainty threaten achievements Haitians have made over the past five years,” said Wendy Bigham, a representative from the U.N.’s World Food Programme, in a statement. 

The majority of the money that the U.N. has pledged has not yet been given to Haiti directly, but rather to international contractors and developers. Reconstruction projects have been rerouted, such as one that forced Haitians out of their homes in Port-au-Prince in order to build government buildings. Many of the donations went toward projects funding initial relief (like emergency food and shelter); however, those have had little to no long-term effects. Housing projects are literally crumbling and lack the proper sanitation.

Perhaps even more pressing is the constant turmoil consuming the government. Elections are long overdue, which has slowed the recovery process. The U.N. issued a call for help last Wednesday, asking that world leaders unite and address the issue sooner rather than later.

“In order to strengthen stability, preserve the democratic gains and ensure sustainable development in Haiti, members of the Core Group urge all the political actors to come together, to find a solution before the end of this week,” the statement said.

That is not to say that strides haven’t been made. The number of people living in temporary housing is down to 70,000, compared to the 1.5 million displaced immediately after the earthquake. Cities are slowly but surely coming back to life, and some citizens have been able to get back on their feet. The end is barely in sight, but at least it’s a start.