When I think about how the built environment affects who people become, I cant help but think how perfect of an example Haiti is. For my term project, my goal is to eradicate world hunger and poverty. My group felt Haiti was a good location because it is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.
One of the main reasons why Haiti is so impoverished is due to the lack of space for the amount of people they have. Its area is approximately 10,714 square miles, which is slightly smaller than Maryland, and their population is estimated to be around 8 million. Lack of space usually leads to poor, unhealthy living conditions and thats definitely the case for Haiti.
Another reason why Haiti is so poor is a result of the environmental surroundings and how they affect the availability of essential resources to survive. Due to environmental disasters such as flooding and hurricanes, Haiti's terrain has been totally ruined. Forests have been wiped out and the land is filled with giant mudslides. This has resulted in unclean and polluted water supply. The water is also contaminated because there is no sewage sanitation system in Haiti and, therefore, the water is polluted with human waste. Not to mention, the farmable land where they once grew crops to feed their country and make a profit are now devastated. Only about 20% of the land in Haiti is arable. Also, the lands predominant fuel source is charcoal and that is partly why only 2% of Haiti's original forests remain. Environmental sustainability is essential to successful farming and, since the land these Haitians live on has been trashed by events of the past, their is no food for them to eat and no clean water for them to drink.
When resources diminish, poverty and hunger increase. A child's mental and physical development is adversely affected by malnutrition and many of them develop disabilities that forbid them access to an education and employment opportunities. Contaminated water in Haiti is the leading cause of child mortality and illness because they are using that polluted water to cook with and drink, leading to diseases like typhoid, cholera, and chronic diarrhea. These people are growing more hungry and more poor every day because their environment is controlling their lives by destroying the essentials they need to survive. When they don't have clean water, they grow sick and can't survive. When they don't have land to grow crops, they don't have anything to eat and they have no food to make a profit off of, which leads to poverty. These Haitian children need help. They need change.
So I would say the built environment definitely effects who you are and how you live. Now it's just a matter of whether or not we want to help those that are less fortunate improve their environment so they too may live in a supportive and healthy atmosphere. Many organizations are looking to help get Haiti clean water and improve their land so they can once again grow crops and live happily. Strides to prevent natural disasters from destroying the country are also being made. "Be the change you want to see in the world." -Gandhi