Vilnerabilite and Resiliencia: How Haiti and the Dominican Republic are Differentially Prepared to Face a Changing Climate

Cora Becker

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola, and therefore have a similar risk of experiencing natural disasters, unpredictable weather patterns, and other phenomena that are increasing as a result of climate change. Yet in recent decades, Haiti has been considered to be at a significantly higher climate risk — this is due to distinct sociopolitical factors, which have led the two countries to very different points in terms of their economic development and access to resources. However, few studies have directly compared the two countries’ ability to adapt to rising temperatures and accommodate the resulting impacts, including food insecurity, increasing rate and force of natural disasters, and a potential for a much higher rate of infectious diseases. In Haiti, these natural effects of climate change are exacerbated by rampant deforestation, overpopulation of cities, and lack of access to healthcare, among other factors, leading to significantly higher climate vulnerability than in the Dominican Republic. This article will compare the geographically similar but otherwise quite distinct nations on their ability to accommodate the aforementioned impacts of climate change in order to contribute to our understanding of how it is not just natural forces, but also human ones, that can promote either vulnerability or resilience in the face of a changing climate. Exploring the root causes of these distinctions further, and thus considering how these problems could be solved by locally-created and collaborative interventions, is essential if we wish to mitigate the disastrous effects that climate change appears to already be having on Hispaniola, and particularly in Haiti.


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