Friday, January 13, 2012: 11:00 AM
Roosevelt (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Purpose In January 2010, a 7.0 earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti resulting in the estimated deaths of 230,000 people and billions of dollars in destruction. Researchers estimated that 160,000 individuals died in Port-au-Prince alone. Recently several high profile journals have editorialized that this earthquake was not just a natural disaster and that proper prevention efforts could have reduced the casualties significantly. However, there is a paucity of research on the antecedents to victimization in natural disasters. Using a two-wave 1,500 household survey with the second wave conducted six weeks after the earthquake; this study examines the household and individual characteristics associated with an increased likelihood of children being food insecure in the six weeks after quake. Methods: Using a randomized survey of 1,500 households in Port-au-Prince conducted just prior to and six weeks after the quake this study examines the factors associated with the likelihood of children in the household being food insecure. The survey was randomized by using Randomized GPS Coordinate Sampling (RGPS) and included an oversample of 300 households in the three densest and poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Food security was measured by using the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Household Standard Food-Security/Hunger Survey. Household and individual demographic characteristics such as the amount of remittances from abroad, earned household income, physical health of the adult respondent and children, history of human rights victimization, school enrollment, PTSD symptomology, living conditions in the home, and perceptions of security were examined. Findings were estimated with data weighted for population density and adjusted for cluster effects.
Results: Findings suggest for the child-specific predictors of food insecurity that being in school and being older were significantly associated with lower likelihoods of food insecurity. Households that lacked basic amenities such as running water and sewage were significantly more likely to have food insecurity. Monetary remittances showed stronger associations with food security than other sources of income. The percentage of individuals in the home that had a chronic/acute illness just prior to the quake and the adult respondent's health status prior to the quake was associated with increased likelihood of food insecurity. PTSD symptomology of the respondent, household history of human rights victimization, and lower perceptions of security were also associated with a greater likelihood of food insecurity. Conclusion: These findings suggest that decreasing significant vulnerabilities prior to a natural disaster, such as housing quality, security, and schooling, could have a significant impact on survivability and longer term development for children. Geologists suggest that Haiti may experience another strong earthquake in the near future. Assuring proper structural development as well as economic and community development will go a long way in preventing casualties in the future.