Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.



Divided island: How Haiti and the DR became two worlds

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a border, and an island. But the two countries are very different today: the Dominican Republic enjoys higher quality of life for many factors than Haiti. I went to this island and visited both countries, to try and understand when and how their paths diverged.


This video is an exciting debut for the new series “Vox borders.”  By just about every development metric available, the Dominican Republic is doing better than Haiti, the only bordering country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the DR.   


Questions to Ponder: How does the border impact both countries?  How has sharing one island with different colonial legacies shaped migrational push and pull factors?


Tags: Haiti, Dominican Republic, video, poverty, development, economic, labor, migration, political, borders.

Hurricane Matthew-Humanitarian Mapping

“The Humanitarian OpenSteetMap Team (HOT) has activated to provide geographic base data in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. Category 4 Hurricane Matthew continues to strengthen and is advancing on Haiti and the Bahamas. Hurricane Matthew is expected to cause ‘catastrophic‘ damage including extreme flooding and landslides potentially affecting millions in Haiti, Jamaica, and Bahamas. To start we are mapping coastal communities in the storm path.”


Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action?  Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency.  Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets.  My students and I are working on this over the weekend; can you join in and help?  The projects that are marked urgent by the Red Cross are all in Haiti right now.  Here are is a video playlist that explains the project and how you can help if you are new to OpenStreetMap (OSM).


Tags: disasters, mappingSTEM, physicalHaiti, weather and climate.

Cutting Haiti’s Forests

The major environmental problem facing Haiti’s biodiversity is explained, including video of tree-cutting within a national park.


Deforestation does not happen in a vacuum–it occurs in an economic, political, and historical context.  Having successfully staged a slave revolution against France in 1806, they were ostracized from the global community (since the powers that be did not want to see slave rebellions or colonial uprising elsewhere) and were forced to look within for their own energy resources.  The nation’s forests were (and still are) converted into charcoal, leading to long-term environmental problems such as soil erosion, flooding, and habitat destruction for many species.  All of this increased  increased Haiti’s disaster vulnerability in the earthquake of 2010.     


Tags: Haiti, biogeography, environmentecology, video, poverty, development, economic, labor.

Haiti: From Recovery to Sustainable Development


“Since the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has successfully pulled through the humanitarian recovery phase and seen significant socioeconomic gains. Yet as Haiti moves toward long-term, sustainable development, the country faces significant challenges. The political system remains fragile, sustainable jobs are scarce, and the environment is still as vulnerable now as it was then.”


While this is primarily a promotional campaign for the UNDP’s efforts in Haiti, it nicely contextualizes the problems that Haiti faces before discussing how to improve the situation.  Some keys for the future include: 

  • Governance and Rule of Law
  • Recovery and Poverty Reduction
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Environmental Management
  • Medical Outbreak Management  


Tagsdisasters, Haiti, NGOspoverty, development, video.

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