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Farmland, Homes and Hope Disappear with Rising Waters in Haiti

July 17, 2013


Former farmland flooded by Lake Azuei in Haiti

Joseph is a truck driver from Fonds-Parisien, Haiti, who has nine children. His family has lived by Lake Azuei for generations.

In the past 10 years, the lake has risen more than 10 meters and has doubled in size, from 155 square kilometers in 2004 to 354 square kilometers today. As the waters rose and began to spill over the banks, Joseph’s land has gradually disappeared underwater, taking with it his home and those of his extended family.

“[The floodwaters] have diminished our ability to work because we lost nearly everything we invested in this land,” Joseph says in an interview translated from his native language, Haitian Creole. “Life has become much worse because we have to find a way to build other houses.”

Three kilometers away, in the Dominican Republic, Lake Enriquillo is also rising with no signs of stopping, and has already engulfed farmland, houses and roads.

In an effort to understand the toll that the surging waters have taken, Mimi Sheller, director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy in the College of Arts and Sciences, joined a team studying the imperiled lakes on the border between the two countries.

“Knowing what is causing the lakes to rise—whether it’s a climate-related or geological phenomenon—will help officials in the Dominican Republic and Haiti develop effective mitigation strategies,” says Sheller.

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