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October 2014

4 Years On, Looking Back at OpenStreetMap Response to the Haiti Earthquake

Robert Soden's picture
Also available in: Français
With this week’s launch of the guide to Planning an Open Cities Mapping Project, it is important to return to earlier work that inspired the Open Cities team. 

It has now been more than four and a half years since the January 12, 2010 earthquake devastated one of the most vulnerable countries in the Western Hemisphere.  Just before 5pm local time on, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The epicenter was near the town of Leogane, about 20 miles west of the capital city Port-au-Prince.  The heavy block and concrete style construction of the capital— intended to withstand hurricane force winds—collapsed and caused massive loss of life and injury. It is now estimated that over 40,000 people died and over 1 million were displaced. As many as 40% of Haiti’s civil servants were injured or killed, and the majority of government buildings were damaged or destroyed.  The World Bank along with donor governments and other international organizations launched one of the largest disaster relief and reconstruction efforts in history. 

Communities stand up to gender-based violence in Honduras and Guatemala

Jennifer McCleary-Sills's picture
Also available in: Español



“Despite all the work that we have been doing, the number of women reporting domestic violence cases has been increasing,” one of the participants in a workshop of the Safer Municipalities project said, expressing his frustration.  The Safer Municipalities project is an initiative of the Government of Honduras aimed at preventing violence nationwide.  He added, “There must be something missing in the services and referral system we offer for domestic violence in the Municipal Office for Women.”

As the facilitators of the workshop discussion, we replied that quite the opposite was true:  an increase in the reporting of domestic violence cases is a positive sign that there is growing confidence in local institutions and a result of the Municipal Office’s efforts.  The challenge, we explained, is to address the causes of violence to better support prevention efforts and improve services and response systems.