The effects of the earthquake are still being felt over a year later. DSI’s model of locally driven social enterprises has shown itself to be both scalable and sustainable. The past year has allowed us many opportunities to enter new communities, forge partnerships with institutions which will be fighting unsafe water for years to come, and learn lessons about how best to make our efforts sustainable. Despite fluctuations in aid that has been available to communities we serve, our Haitian agents have continued providing access to safe water.
Our current programs serve over 40,000 families with chlorine on an ongoing basis. Not only do our efforts save lives, but the increased operations have provided jobs for over 260 Haitians to produce and distribute bottles of chlorine. In order to sustain these economic opportunities and make continued health impact, it is critical that local agents promote healthy behaviors and use of chlorine to treat drinking water. Your support is greatly appreciated as we empower these agents to strive for change that will become a part of daily life for rural Haitian families.
We left early from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, for the two hour drive to Leogane, where we were meeting with staff from Deep Springs International (DSI). We arrived on a Saturday and were surprised to find several staff members busily working. It was bottling day!
DSI locally produces a liquid chlorine that makes water safe to drink. A capful of chlorine purifies five gallons of water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. The organization works with community health workers employed by the Ministry of Health to spread the importance of clean water for overall health – a message that becomes even more important with the recent spread of cholera. For only $1.25, a family of five can receive enough chlorine to have clean drinking water for an entire month.
In the past year since the earthquake, DSI has grown from only 40 staff to 240 staff – almost all of whom are Haitian. We met with Jean Alliance who explained to us how they train staff to educate the community and bring the chlorine solution to families throughout the region. The sustainability of the project is important, so the solution is sold, with the small profit margin going to the community health workers. This allows the project to be independent from relying on grants, provides employment in the local community, and reducing health problems among the families who use the system. Michael Ritter, National Program Officer, says that their studies show that health indicators seem to be improving within families that use the system. Childhood diarrhea, for instance, has dropped 50% among their clients.
They continue to monitor the affect that DSI’s water systems are having on the area and expand in a smart, sustainable way. DSI was working in Haiti before the earthquake, and continues to remain dedicated to the expanding in a way that improves health and increases local employment in the region.
This week Hurricane Tomas hit Haiti at a critical time when Haitians are working to contain the cholera outbreak and continue rebuilding after the January earthquake that drove many into temporary dwellings. The cholera outbreak alone has claimed more than 440 lives and led to the hospitalization of over 6,700 Haitians to date.
The hurricane did not directly hit the earthquake zone, where displaced families would be highly exposed and endangered. However, heavy rains have caused flooding (including a river overwhelming Leogane (pictured)) and may result in mudslides in populated areas and high winds that would damage or destroy makeshift tent shelters. We serve 18,500 families in Leogane.
“Haiti’s children have suffered one disaster on top of another this year,” Trayle Kulshan, UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster Coordinator, said yesterday.
DSI’s production of Gadyen Dlo (our Haitian-made liquid chlorine) has increased in several communities that we serve based on need and demand. In Jolivert, this week we provided 20 times the amount of Gadyen Dlo typically demanded.
We have also been producing large quantities of Gadyen Dlo to provide to partner organizations. For example, MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) is being supplied with 870 gallons of Gadyen Dlo and 500,000 AquaTabs for water treatment in Port-au-Prince. This Gadyen Dlo supply alone will purify over 3,800,000 gallons of water, and the AquaTabs will purify 2,500,000 gallons of water.
This work is in addition to our current activities targeting the cholera impact area, including providing treatment systems and Gadyen Dlo to 353 schools with UNICEF, delivering 90 gallons of Gadyen Dlo to DINEPA (Ministry of Water and Sanitation) to purify over 340,000 gallons of water, and training healthcare workers.
Deep Springs International is currently under the pressure of the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti that has already killed over 200 Haitians and sickened over 2,000. Cholera is a preventable illness, preventable with our liquid chlorine.
The areas affected include the Artibonite Valley (a location of many persons displaced by the earthquake), Arcahaie (near Port-au-Prince), and Limbey. This outbreak has also increased worries the disease could reach the earthquake zone. According to the Pan American Health Organization, the number of cases will continue to grow because Haitians do not have any built-up immunity to cholera.
This weekend Deep Springs International delivered 80 gallons of Gadyen Dlo (our Haitian made liquid chlorine treatment) to DINEPA (Haiti’s health ministry) to purify over 1,200,000 million liters of water. DINEPA will use this shipment of Gadyen Dlo in St. Marc to treat a piped public water system.
You can help Haitians by guaranteeing the safe water necessary to shield families from infection and rejuvenate those who are already sick.
As of August 2010, DSI and you are now serving over 150,000 Haitians with safe water for years to come. Through your help and that of organizations like Save the Children and UNICEF we have been able to act quickly--providing not only safe water for a day but safe water for a lifetime through a strategic plan that converts traditional aid into sustainable jobs and enterprises.
Our programs reach both communities with the same safe water system - Gadyen Dlo - that you helped provided to over 60,000 Haitians in the earthquake zone. This was not a "one time hit," like a vaccination. Your compassion has helped us distribute and establish a system that will transition from initial aid to Haitian-managed sustainable enterprises. As we talk about it internally, we provide a solution to a systemic problem that is "for Haitians, by Haitians."
Although we have been able to create many jobs for Haitians and provide safe water to over 150,000 Haitians, the need is increasing for rural Haitians. Traditional aid organizations and the Haitian government are now focusing time and resources on dense population centers to the neglect of the rural communities that DSI serves. There are over 1,200,000 rural Haitians who still do not have safe water to drink or properly prepare meals.
The impact from the January 2010 earthquake remains, and we would love to continue serving rural Haitians with you.
If you have any questions, let us know! Please also check out our website with many updates and more complete information about our strategy, goals, and people - www.deepspringsinternational.org
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