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A GIS-based modeling of environmental health risks in populated areas of Port-au-prince, Haiti

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par Myrtho Joseph
University of Arizona - Master in Natural Resources Information System 1987

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Waste Pollution

We must concede that the modeling of zones susceptible to waste pollution hazard was arduous. Though the final approach adopted was not completely satisfactory and necessitates scrutiny, the assumptions made and the mechanisms developed were likely to provide results that are coincident to the reality of waste, which is wide spread over the study area. This factor covers more than 95% of the area and received the greatest weight in the EOW survey. About half of the study area (53%) was found exposed to at least high risks, which pinpoints to the severity of this issue and the challenge it poses to decision makers particularly in a context of very dynamic demographic variables, and in a setting of weak institutional capacity of management.

Figure 13 shows that neighborhoods away from the collection network but having high density housing, and those very close to the network but again with high density housing and located in lowlands were found to exhibit the highest risk to waste pollution. Conversely people living in high elevation and where the density of houses is relatively low enjoy a better environment.

Figure 13: Waste Pollution in Port-au-Prince

4.4.3 Housing Density

Housing density was deemed one of the most important factors, which not only embodies a source of pollution and serves as sink for other sources, but also underlines vulnerability to all the hazards considered. Though concessions were made to classify some areas at low density where they would be considered medium-to-high density by international standard classification, about 46% of the areas were estimated to be high-to-extreme density (Figure 14). However these densities are unique and incomparable to those found in developed countries' urban neighborhoods. To illustrate this sharp contrast, an average of 10,583 homes by square kilometer was counted in Port-au-Prince by IHSI in the last national census (IHSI 2003). Even more striking was the maximum density of more than 164,500 dwellings found in one district. As a result the ventilation is very poor inside and outside these structures; the distance between the toilets and the living spaces is negligible, a situation that constantly exposes people to nearly physical contact with feces and its manifestation; cooking with charcoal is done inside or adjacent to the house; the effortless transmission of bacteria through insects, rodents, and cockroaches and many other impacts for the physical and the mental health.

Figure 14: Housing Density in Port-au-prince

4.4.4 Pollution from Market Places

A common phenomenon that escapes authorities' control in the study area is the extension of public markets beyond their original assigned location. This expansion in Port-au-Prince resembles water run-off quickly turning to overflows due to excess above the retention capacity. It has become impossible to delimit the physical extents of the market places. In addition to the official markets, there are the informal markets that have been accepted as a fact. This study covered only those recognized by the city's municipality. From low to very high, the hazards they represented formed more than 22% of the area, of which about 36% (8% in total) where at high to very high risk (Figure 15). The buffer built around the markets assumes that the polluted air shed spreads homogeneously in all direction without consideration of wind direction, transmission vectors traveling patterns, and obstacles in the vicinity.

Figure 15: Pollution from market places

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9Impact, le film from Onalukusu Luambo on Vimeo.

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