The impact of the earthquake and humanitarian assistance on household economies and livelihoods of earthquake-affected populations in Haiti


  • Thomas D. Kirsch, MD
  • Eva Leidman, MSPH
  • William Weiss, DrPH
  • Shannon Doocy, PhD



Haiti, earthquake, disaster, impact, displacement, livelihoods, economic recovery


Objective: On January 12, 2010, one of the most destructive earthquakes in history struck the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. This study aims to characterize the impact of the earthquake and humanitarian response on well being of the affected households as means of evaluating the effectiveness of response efforts.
Design: A stratified 60 × 20 cluster survey was conducted in Port-au-Prince internally displaced persons camps (n = 600) and neighborhoods (n = 596) in January 2011. Clusters were assigned using probability proportional to size sampling and data were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires.
Results: The earthquake affected incomes in 90 percent of camp and 73 percent of neighborhood households (p < 0.001); camp households were consistently worse off by most measures of economic and food security. As compared to camps, living in a neighborhood was associated with increased odds of better/same income status (Odds ratio, OR: 1.78, Confidence interval, CI: 1.25-2.53), employment (OR: 1.47, 1.01-2.14), and food access (OR: 1.83, CI: 1.33-2.52).With respect to earthquake impacts, damage to the home was associated with decreased odds of better/same food access (OR: 0.55, CI: 0.33-0.93) and injuries with decreased odds of better/same income status (OR: 0.57, CI: 0.37, 0.87).Within 1 month of the earthquake, 89 percent of camp and 46 percent in neighborhood households had received humanitarian assistance (p ≤ 0.001); however, receipt of aid was not associated with improved income, employment, or food access at 1 year postearthquake.
Conclusions: The immediate impacts of injury and mortality had marginal influences on long-term household economic security, whereas displacement into camps was stongly associated with negative outcomes for income, employment, and food access.

Author Biographies

Thomas D. Kirsch, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Eva Leidman, MSPH

Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

William Weiss, DrPH

Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Shannon Doocy, PhD

Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


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How to Cite

Kirsch, MD, T. D., E. Leidman, MSPH, W. Weiss, DrPH, and S. Doocy, PhD. “The Impact of the Earthquake and Humanitarian Assistance on Household Economies and Livelihoods of Earthquake-Affected Populations in Haiti”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 7, no. 2, Apr. 2012, pp. 85-94, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2012.0084.