This past July we finished an installation in a small town of Fabias in Saint Marc. We were contacted by a local church in Hagerstown, MD to help bring clean water to a school that they sponsor in Fabias. We were inclined to help because this was near the area where the chlorea outbreak first appeared. We made a site visit to access how we could help them and we went back and did an installation of a 2,000 gallons reservoir and chlorinator which are fully functional. Water from the well is pumped up twice a day to fill the reservoir. There are 3 spigots that are accessible in the schoolyard and 3 spigots that are outside the school fence for the general population.
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there have been nearly 700,000 reported cases of cholera and over 8,000 deaths, with an estimated 1,000 more each year until water sanitation has improved. International Action’s immediate response entailed tackling the problem at the source of the outbreak, the Artibonite departement in northern Haiti. We first met with Haitian water department officials and partners to strategize a coordinated solution to the spreading epidemic. This potentially fatal waterborne disease can easily be prevented and treated with proper sanitation and access to clean water. We have dedicated ourselves to supplying and installing multiple chlorinators and water tanks throughout Artibonite and distributing chlorine tablets to organizations addressing the public health crisis.
Recently, we established a new site in Fabias that was featured on CNN International. Located in Artibonite, a rural area outside of Port-au-Prince, Fabias is isolated with very limited water resources. Up until now they have had only one well with a hand-pump. Many provincial villages do not receive as much aid as the cities, so it was especially important for us to reach this region. Our Associate Director was able to witness the delivery and installation of the first water tank in the community by the Presbytérale School of St. Francis of Assisi, with two other tanks having been installed since then. The people of Fabias were very welcoming and were instrumental in the accomplishment of this project.
International Action is looking to continue these efforts in other provincial areas and we already have plans to install a new clean water system with a tank, chlorinator and pump in the rural areas of Chapelle Saint Joseph and Poste Pierrot.
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For the past four years, Haiti has been trapped in a horrible cholera epidemic, one that has been labeled the worst cholera epidemic in recent history. This epidemic has already claimed around 8,300 lives and has infected hundreds of thousands more. But, how did this all start? Cholera is spread through infected human waste; in this case, it started with waste from a UN Peacekeeping camp that entered the water supply. When this happened, anyone who came into contact with the water supply was at risk of contracting cholera. All of this is exacerbated in a country like Haiti where public hygiene, sanitation, waste management, and proper sewage disposal are almost nonexistent. This disease spreads exceptionally fast and can kill within hours if not diagnosed. Because of this, it is extremely difficult to contain and remains a huge threat to Haitians.
However, there are things that can be done to try to contain the spread of cholera. The most important action to take is to ensure that the water supply is clean and kept separate from any human waste. With these objectives in mind, International Action is committed to preventing the spread of cholera by providing clean water to the people of Haiti. We do this by using cheap, sustainable, and effective chlorinators to decontaminate the water so that people may drink it without fear of becoming infected. These chlorinators are long term solutions that we are hoping to make even more sustainable by creating a system that allows the maintenance of these chlorinators to be community led. Already, we have brought clean water to over 300,000 Haitians who are now able to go to school or work on a regular basis because they are not constantly ill. It is our hope that by bringing an uncontaminated water supply to Haiti, we can help eradicate cholera in that area.
Jean is 12 years old. His story is a resonating one, which offers hope and shows how chlorine is so instrumental in improving health in Haiti. Jean lives with his 7 brothers and sisters and his father, who is slowly going blind. This past August, Jean's father became ill with cholera, causing vomiting and diarrhea, and becoming severely dehydrated in the process. Jean walked his father to the nearest hospital to receive treatment-which was miles away, but at the only price they could afford. Jean's father received sufficient medical attention, but their town still lacked clean water. A small Haitian-run non-profit reached out to International Action. We acted as quick as we could, first sending a bucket of granular chlorine so the families in the town could treat their household water until we arrived with the chlorinator. Now, Jean's town has clean water and his father has regained his strength to the level where he is able to farm mangos, allowing Jean to go to school full-time.
International Action and Vwa Ayiti (Voice of Haiti) are pleased to announce our merger this upcoming January!
Our organizations have been operating in Haiti since 2006 and collaborating since 2010, creating a great deal of synergy in both technological development and project management. International Action provides municipal water treatment to urban neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince and surrounding regions, while Voice of Haiti provides treatment in underserved rural communities.
It is our common belief that access to clean water ensures a solid foundation for good health – the key to community development – empowering both families and individuals. Combined, we have provided clean water to 975,000 people! We will keep you informed as the merger approaches and ask for your continued support.
Together we will become stronger, more efficient, and better positioned to fulfill our common goal of providing clean water to over 1 million people in 2014!
The International Action Team
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