The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 was a catastrophic event exacerbated by the extreme vulnerability of the population and the lack of preparedness and response capacity of national authorities.
The 2010 earthquake was one of the biggest natural disasters in the country’s history resulting in over 200,000 fatalities and the displacement of approximately 1.5 million people.
Prior to the earthquake, Haiti suffered from high levels of poverty and weak institutions of governance, increasing the country’s vulnerability in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
The slow distribution of resources in the days after the earthquake resulted in civil unrest and looting.
In contrast, Japan fared better after the 2011 tsunami, which led to a nuclear power plant meltdown and the contamination of large areas with radiation. Despite the 15,000 fatalities and destruction, the incident did not fuel social or political instability.
The Japanese government was able to address both the destruction from the tsunami and contain the damage from the nuclear power plant meltdown. It also coordinated an effective program for economic recovery.
The difference in immediate impacts and repercussions in these two episodes stem from the two countries operating at vastly different levels of Positive Peace.
While Haiti displays a very low Positive Peace standing, ranking 149th in 2020, Japan is among the top 20 Positive Peace countries in the world.
This contrast highlights the role of Positive Peace as a measure of resilience, capable of protecting the population from the worst impact of a disaster and rebuilding the socio-economic system in its aftermath.