About the Project

The Applied Emergency Management Studio

The Applied Emergency Management Studio (AEMS) is a new concept at EMHS and this was the pilot project.  Emergency Management and Homeland Security faculty felt a need for a ‘hands-on’ emergency management experience to supplement and enhance the academic lecture and theory common in university coursework. Further, this practical experience could be applied to existing real-world problems, creating a dual purpose effort.  The AEMS researchers gain valuable knowledge in disaster management while providing critical and valuable services in the world.

 The Center for Disaster Risk Policy

CDRPThe Center for Disaster Risk Policy’s continuing mission is to identify, develop, and promote best practices in emergency and public management. CDRP is the research arm of the FSU Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program and focuses on disaster management research and technical assistance in support of EMHS, outside governmental agencies and non-governmental entities. CDRP has operated since 1996 on EM-related activities, and is a recognized leader in plans assistance, policy development, technical solutions, and training and exercises. CDRP is staffed by research faculty, research and support staff, student researchers, and a variety of faculty associates from around Florida State University.

The Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at Florida State University

FSUEMHS_wideThe Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program (EMHS) is in the College of Social Sciences at Florida State University. EMHS Students select classes covering a range of topics, from the core principles of emergency management to related areas in public health and terrorism studies. The Program accepts cross-discipline and non-degree seeking students. All EMHS courses are also offered online, accommodating distance-learning students and local students with busy schedules. An academic Certificate in Emergency Management is available to students who complete the required core and elective courses.

The Republic of Haiti

The Republic of Haiti is a Caribbean country occupying the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is the third largest Caribbean nation behind Cuba and the Dominican Republic at 27,750 square kilometers with an estimated population of 10.4 million. The capital city, Port-au-Prince, is home to almost a million people. Haiti has a rich history as the only nation in the world to gain independence as result of a successful slave revolt. The official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole.

In January 2010, Haiti suffered a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in and around Port-au-Prince.   This earthquake destroyed over 97,000 homes, killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced more than 1.3 million Haitians from their homes and communities.  (USGS, 2011)  As Haiti recovered from this devastating disaster, emphasis was placed on increasing the resilience to disaster throughout the country, not just in and around the capital.

Haiti is governed by a semi-presidential republic. In this multiparty system the President is elected directly by popular elections. The President then appoints a Prime Minister and together they constitute the government.  The current government of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has focused on reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake, and his programs include increasing tourism to the nation and promoting foreign investment.  Despite this, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas with a GNI per capita of only $760 USD.  This economic depression is due to shortages of skilled labor and widespread unemployment. There is some evidence that his programs are working, as the Haitian economy grew 4.3% in 2013, up from 2.8% in 2012.  (World Bank, 2014)

Access to basic health care is limited and children are unvaccinated and frequently suffer waterborne disease and intestinal parasites.  Malaria is endemic in the country and approximately 25,000 people suffered from the disease in 2012.  In comparison, over 84,000 Haitians contracted malaria in 2010; the earthquake destroyed prevention and educational capacities.  (Pan American Health Organization, 2013)

Despite political and economic turmoil Haiti has a vibrant culture that combines elements of French, African, native Taíno, and colonial Spanish.

Île à Vache, Haiti

Île à Vache is a small island off the southern coast of Haiti. It is south of the city of Les Cayes in the Sud Department. The island is approximately 45 square kilometers and has limited infrastructure and economy. There are no paved roads or automobiles on the island, nor is there centralized power generation, water purification or wastewater treatment. The limited electricity on the island is locally generated or solar in origin. Cellular telephone service is available from Digicel and Natcom – the two major providers in Haiti.  The population of an estimated 15,000 residents is scattered across the island but concentrated on the western and northern coasts.

The largest community on Ile a Vache is the village of Madam Bernard, located on the northern coast of the island.  With a population of approximately 8,000, Mdme. Bernard is the capital of Ile a Vache and houses the only governmental buildings on the island.  Further, Mdme. Bernard has the only public market on Ile a Vache, open on Mondays and Thursdays.  This market caters to local needs and provided food, sundries and clothing.  Mdme. Bernard also has several schools, an orphanage, and a public health clinic.

Ile a Vache was designated as a focus of tourism development in 2012 by the Ministry of Tourism, and that plan was moving forward by the time this project began on the island.  Current tourism is limited to three small resorts on the western end of the island: Abaka Bay Resort, Port Morgan, and Vacation Village. These resorts cater to a variety of clients, and have a significant impact on the economics of Kakok, the westernmost village on the island.

The tourism development plan on the island has caused significant protest from the local population.  Land ownership in Ile a Vache is based on a long term lease from the government.  Upon announcing the plan to develop tourism on the island, the Haitian National Government determined they could and would revoke leases to develop resorts and infrastructure.  This decision was not met with approval from the local residents and sparked protests and confrontations between residents and government officials.

This unrest on Ile a Vache reached a peak in the Spring of 2014 – when the research team was on the island.  Due to this security situation, the field research teams were unable to access some communities and locations on the island.