International Action

International Action collaborates with partner groups and local communities in Haiti to build up local capacities in water resource management; raise the public's awareness of water-related health issues; advocate for water-related policies and development priorities that ensure equitable and affordable access to clean water for all; and support community-based water purification and distribution projects.
Jul 24, 2015

Update on the Chlorine Distribution Center

The idea for the Chlorine Distibution Centre (CDC) arose back in 2012, as a way of ensuring the sustainability of the water stations International Action (IA) has helped develop in Port-au-Prince. The concept is simple: instead of relying on donations of chlorine tablets from IA, community-representatives can use funds from the water stations to buy more chlorine and store it at a central CDC. The CDC will be managed by a committee formed of one representative from each water station, from each community. In this way, water stations can function independantly of IA and be in charge of their own future. 

Anyone working in Haiti will quickly realise not everything is that simple in practise. It has taken years of discussions, planning, collaborating and eventually, training of the community representatives in business management. But we have made it. Finally we are ready to put preparation into ACTION. 

This month, Zach Brehmer, IA's Executive Director, will meet with the community representatives to finally hand over. Together they will come to an agreement, which will be signed by each member, acknowledging their responsibility and committment to the CDC scheme. IA has already agreed to donate one years supply chlorine tablets to the CDC, while enough funds are generated to buy the next shipment of chlorine. IA will also provide technical support the CDC for two years, with advice, expertise and knowledge when required. All that remains is for the Haitian communities to work together to ensure the continuing availability of clean drinking water.

This is what the Haitian people want -- to take charge of their own future and not be reliant on aid.

From the beginning it has been the Haitian people driving our efforts at IA. First, communities approached us to ask for help chlorinating their water supply, and we installed our chlorinators, a simple device which can be repaired easily by local engineers. Next, they wanted to be in charge of the chlorination and run it as a business to generate funds to pay for maintenance and future repairs. IA provided training in chlorination and how to test the level in the water, as well as finance. They were so successful at this that they found they had excess funds to put back into the community, and this has served as a model for another of IA's projects, creating rural water stations in the Artibone region (see project: Ensure sustainability of clean water in Haiti). Now they want to use some of these funds to buy their own chlorine. By working together, they can pool funds, order chlorine tablets in bulk, and store it in a common area through a process which is autonomous and self-regualted. We are confident they will step up to the challenge.

Jun 24, 2015

How our de-worming tablets and vitamin supplements are used

The clinic, or the "shed"
The clinic, or the "shed"

This is public health in ACTION -These are the words that flashed through my mind on my first site-visit as a Program Officer at International Action and my first trip to Haiti. As a medical doctor who previously worked in a busy UK hospital, I have been frustrated by the missed opportunities to deliver good public health and prevent people from even setting foot in a hospital. However many important NGOs in Haiti are doing it right now. The team at International Action was able to visit one of these NGOs, Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti, a long-term partner of ours, on a recent trip to Haiti in June 2015. 

Taryn, the Country Program Director for Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti, or Kore Timoun as it is known in Haiti, is a bright, vivacious star of the group and our guide for the day. We meet at the clinic or "shed" as it's affectionately known in the compound of a small private hospital (the hospital does not work with them but loans them the land). A baby, not more than a year old, is waiting to be seen with his grandmother. This boy's mother does not have the money to look after him herself and so the grandmother is bringing up the child, a common situation in Haiti. This boy is malnourished and has been attending the clinic for check-ups and to receive Plumpinut nutrition, a recent product designed from peanut butter. He will also receive important vitamin supplements and de-worming treatment supplied by International Action. In this way, he will grow stronger so that one day he can return to his mother and lead a healthy life.

Next stop is an outreach clinic in the beautiful countryside outside Port-au Prince, Haiti's capital. Around 30 women have gathered at the community meeting place, after hearing adverts over a megaphone during the days before. They are here to learn about nutrition for their babies and children. This is Haitian-run clinic, by the people, for the people. The monitrice (local health worker) is already known and trusted by women in the village, and she helps weight and measure the height of the children. She assists two other health workers who specialise in community health, both Haitian. The only "foreigner" is Jess, a intern who has moved to Haiti with her husband to put her dvelopment degree into action. Once the children have been measured, and those with malnutrition are refered to the clinic for treatment, all children receive a de-worming tablet and a vitamin supplement, in the form of a liquid capsule. After my own experience of screaming children on the paediatric unit in the UK, I am astounded to witness children as young as two, willingly open their mouths to let Jess squeeze in the vitamin supplement liquid, as if they have done this a thousand times before. There is no screaming or crying, only moms happily chatting in the shade while their children play around them. After the distribution, the health workers take the opportunity to talk about family planning, and the women listen attentively because why not stay in the shade a little longer and hear what they have to say? "This is it", I think to myself, "this is public health at it's best" and I am so proud to be a part of it.

Lovely, the monitrice, measuring a child
Lovely, the monitrice, measuring a child's height
Health worker measuring a child
Health worker measuring a child's weight
Child receiving liquid capsule vitamin supplement
Child receiving liquid capsule vitamin supplement
Outreach clinic in a small village
Outreach clinic in a small village
Beautiful countryside surrounding Port-au-Prince
Beautiful countryside surrounding Port-au-Prince
May 11, 2015

The Revitalization of Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince's Poorest Neighborhood

Lindsay carrying water to her home a mile away
Lindsay carrying water to her home a mile away

Thank you from all of us at International Action in DC and in Haiti for your help and support over the years. Together, we are really making a difference in Haiti and I’m very proud to be a part of it.

We have done so much, helping 380,000 people with every day access to clean, safe water, but I have to ask for your help again. We need your help to begin a vital, new project: The revitalization of the water stations in Haiti’s poorest neighborhood, Cite Soleil. 

1)    A Brief Summary of the Situation in Cite Soleil -- Cite Soleil is one of the most misunderstood and neglected communities in Haiti. Most of the residents are families that are stuck in the cycle of poverty in large part because of where they live. Unfortunately, Cite Soleil is known for its gang violence, though this violence does not define the vast majority of the community. Because of this reputation there are many people and institutions that overlook Cite Soleil as they presume any improvements will be short-lived. The community believes in itself. They belief that they will succeed if given the chance to. It is our duty to give the people of Cite Soleil this chance.

2)    Our New Project in Cite Soleil -- We have worked in Cite Soleil for many years, having installed eight chlorinators on government built water stations. Time, lack of resources and spurts of vandalism has caused many of these water stations to fall into disrepair with no plans from the government to rebuild. But the people will not give up. After talking with the community leaders of Cite Soleil we have decided to take action and fix the eight water stations, while installing a new chlorinator on a ninth. We need $46,000 to install the new pipes, concrete and protective coverings to provide clean, safe water to 11,500 of the most disadvantaged and forgotten people in the Western Hemisphere.

After these improvements are made and the people of Cite Soleil have consistent, ever day access to clean, safe water, they will be able to connect with our sustainability focused Chlorine Distribution Center. The whole point of this system is sustainability; communities transport and deliver the chlorine they need with their own resources, making the operation of the chlorinators completely sustainable. Once Cite Soleil has access to this system the people will not have to hope that someone will come and help them. They will be able to ensure that they have clean, safe water on their own.

With your support we can really make a difference for the people of Cite Soleil, for people like Lindsay (photo 1).

Lindsay wants to be an artist, making beautifully colorful Haitian birds out of metal and paint. Too much of her time, however, is spent making sure her family has safe water to drink.  She spends 20 hours per week collecting water from a clinic over a mile away from her home – even though there is a community water station two minutes from her home. The water station by her home leaks, and rarely works. When it is working, women and children line up and wait for hours as the water slowly pours out of one working tap (photo 2). Lindsay, like many of her neighbors, spends half of a normal working week collecting water instead of pursuing her dreams or doing the things she loves. This needs to change.

With your help, we can help people like Lindsay realize that they have not been forgotten, that there are people who care for them, and that they can be in control of their own lives.  Let’s start with the water that they drink, clean and bathe with every day. Please do take the time to look through the three pictures attached and the comparison of a thriving water station in another Port-au-Prince community to the ones in Cite Soleil. Thank you, again, for your continued support!

Waiting in line for hours to gather water
Waiting in line for hours to gather water
 
   

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