USAID Report Questions Haitian Quake Death Toll

The death toll from the January 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti was significantly lower than the toll claimed by Haitian leaders, according to the draft of a report prepared for USAID not yet publicly released, the Associated Press/Herald Sun reports (5/31). According to the Agence France-Presse, State Department representative Mark Toner said the draft report, which USAID commissioned from Washington-based LTL Strategies, “contained internal inconsistencies with its own findings” so the department is “reviewing these inconsistencies with LTL Strategies to ensure information we release is accurate” (Troutman, 5/28).

“News agencies, which obtained a copy of the document, say it estimates that the death toll was between 46,000 and 85,000 people, far below the Haitian government’s figure of more than a quarter million people. The report also questions official United Nations figures that around 680,000 people remain homeless,” VOA News writes (5/30). The draft report, dated May 13, “draws its estimates from door-to-door surveys carried out by [USAID] over 29 days in January,” according to AFP. “There was no comment Friday from the office of President Michel Martelly,” the news service writes. A Haitian government spokesperson who asked not to be named said, “The official figures remain the same. It’s surprising that we would talk about new figures now” (5/28).

The AP reports that the study’s lead author, Timothy Schwartz, “declined comment today on the USAID report but said in a blog post that no one should be surprised about a revised death toll given the previous conflicting numbers and lack of justification for the official figures” (5/30).