Existing partnership and data pipeline facilitating rapid response to the 2021 Haiti earthquake


MNO (Digicel Haiti); Flowminder Foundation


On 14 August 2021, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck south-western Haiti, causing loss of life and widespread damage in the Tiburon peninsula and affecting thousands of people. This was followed on 17 August by the passage of Tropical Depression Grace which caused further loss of life and damage, and hindered the response to the earthquake. Combined, the earthquake and tropical depression have led to population displacement and caused severe destruction, particularly in rural areas (more than 137,000 homes damaged or destroyed as per 7 September OCHA situation report).

Flowminder has a long-standing relationship with Digicel Haiti, having previously used CDR data to study the impact and response to rapid-onset disasters (2010 Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016) and infectious disease outbreaks (cholera in 2010 and COVID-19 in 2020).

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Flowminder was able to employ an existing data pipeline, using the FlowKit platform, to rapidly produce initial mobility aggregates from Digicel Haiti CDR data. In particular, these preliminary analyses focused on changes in geographic distribution of subscribers 'home location' and changes in the distances travelled by subscribers compared to the pre-earthquake period.

As a result, Flowminder was able to publish a preliminary report just six days after the earthquake. A further report, with updated results covering a longer period of time, was also published 13 days post-earthquake.

Insights on this approach

The pre-existing partnership with the MNO and data pipeline facilitated the rapid production of mobility aggregates able to provide useful insights into the impact of the earthquake, including quantitative information on the displacement of people from heavily affected areas.

Key steps taken for developing the institutional framework and analytical pipeline

As above for other Flowminder case studies, particularly those in which FlowKit was used.

Areas of improvement and challenges

Establishing stronger relationships with potential end-users of mobility aggregates in the event of a natural disaster would facilitate the effective dissemination of outputs, including understanding the informational requirements of these stakeholders and the appropriate level of technical detail.

Links for further information

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