Project #6628

Combat Haiti's Spreading Cholera Crisis

by International Action
Lisa, now with a cleaner, closer water supply
Lisa, now with a cleaner, closer water supply

The 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti began in the Artibonite Region (central Haiti), claiming the lives of over 8,000 people since 2010. Cholera spread from the Artibonite throughout Haiti because there is poor access to safe water and sanitation facilities in the region. It is an important region to the people of Haiti because of the river that flows through it and the fertile farmland that surrounds it.

While cholera is still a problem in Haiti, it is no longer the most common cause of waterborne sickness. Diseases caused by protozoa – micro-organisms – are now the biggest challenge in Haiti. In fact, recent studies in 2014 have found that 65% of waterborne caused sickness in Haiti is now from protozoan infections, mainly one called Cryptosporidium (commonly referred to as Crypto).

All of us at International Action want to do what we can to help protect people in Haiti from Crypto, while we continue our efforts to mitigate cholera. And we want to start with the Artibonite Region. To defend the people in the Artibonite Region against Crypto and cholera, we are focused on providing communities in this region with new, safe sources of water – because chlorine is not effective against Crypto. To create new water sources we want to use a simple drill called the Village Drill. With your support, we will be able to purchase several of these drills and fund the construction of many wells in Haiti.

The Village Drill can be run and transported by a crew of six, without needing a truck for transport, making it ideal for the rural areas of the Artibonite Region. When drill repairs are needed, they can be done in Haiti, without needing to be shipped back to the US for replacement parts. Most importantly, the Village Drill can dig a very deep well for only $2,000. Most larger drill rigs would cost $10,000 to do the same.

We want to begin using the Village Drill this summer, in 2016, but we do not want to wait until then to begin. Already, we have begun to create new, safe water sources for the people of the Artibonite Region. There are now new water sources in three separate Artibonite communities. Each are home to roughly 740 families. By the end of 2017, we plan to work with 20 more Artibonite communities, creating similar water supply and treatment projects.

These new projects entail drilling into a clean, safe underground water source using the simple, maneuverable Village Drill. Then, we install a solar or electricity-run pump to bring the clean water to the surface. The water is then pumped into a large 2000-gallon water tank and treated by one of our chlorinators, to protect the water from possible recontamination. These underground water sources are clean because they are purified by natural processes – when water slowly moves through the ground all bacteria, protozoa and viruses are removed.

These new water supply and treatment systems will become essential parts of each community they serve in many ways. The water systems will help improve the health of each family that uses it because they will have better quality water and plenty of it to use for drinking, bathing and hand-washing. Many communities will also use the new water supply to irrigate their fields for crops, improving their access to food and creating a source of income. The new water sources will save people time (mainly women and children) when collecting water because their water source will be much closer to the village center than before.

With your help, we can provide thousands of families in Haiti with permanent access to clean, safe water sources.

Thank you very much for your continued support.



Zach Brehmer

President, Board member

International Action

Do you like your job? Is it fulfilling? Does it pay the bills?

We often take our jobs for granted, so take a moment to think about the average Haitian. Haiti is not an easy place to find work. There are very few resources not nearly enough jobs – 80% of people in Haiti make less than $700 a year. This percentage is much worse in Cite Soleil, the poorest community in Port-au-Prince. 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, many people and institutions overlook Cite Soleil as they presume any improvements will be short-lived.

However, helping the people of Cite Soleil remains at the heart of International Action’s mission and we will continue to do what we can for the community.

As you might recall, we made plans this year to restore eight of Cite Soleil’s water stations as they had fallen into disrepair due to lack of funds from the Haitian government to fix them. On top of this, a change in the water supply structure in Cite Soleil resulted in a massive increase in the water pressure at all Cite Soleil water stations, causing pipes to break at each one -- some minor and some major.

Between August and October 2015, our staff in Haiti has completed restoration of all Cite Soleil water sites, including installing water pressure alleviation washers inside the pipes to help mitigate the recent increase in water pressure. Two of the water stations required a complete reinstallation of all main pipes, while six of the stations needed replacement valves and pipe elbows. Now the Haitian water committees have another challenge: reinvigorating public trust so that the sites can again become the main source of clean, safe water for some of the poorest in Haiti. They are not alone in this as International Action will help. Once people know and trust that the sites are working again, those Haitians running the water sites that will be able to earn a living running the water stations once again.

Job creation is difficult, especially in Haiti where resources are scarce. To ensure these water sites stay in business AND bring safe, clean water to Haitian families, International Action will be supporting the sites and monitoring for one year to make sure the upgrades hold up against the increased water pressure. We thank you for your continued support. 

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.


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
Angie Gathering Water
Angie Gathering Water

We urgently need your help again. Please continue to support us in providing sustainable access to clean water for Haitian families in need. After a tragic year in which two of our friends and colleagues at International Action have dealt with life-changing health concerns, we are ready for a year of hope and prosperity.

Your support has enabled us to provide 380,000 individuals in Haiti with clean, safe water for years to come.

But we are determined to do more. Despite the adversity we have faced this past year, we have made some excellent progress in bringing our Haitian friends sustainable access to clean water. We need your assistance in moving forward our two most important projects:

1.)    We have recently installed chlorinators, water pumps, and water tanks in the Artibonite Region of Haiti. They are providing 80,000 people with clean, safe water. To enable 30,000 more Haitians to gain access to clean water in the region, we need your help rebuilding three wells. It will cost $12,400 to fix the wells with concrete and steel 

2.)    The construction plans for the Chlorine Distribution Center are complete -- the system by which communities purchase and transport the chlorine they need with their own resources. Furthermore, the elected community representatives have been trained and are excited to begin. We now need to provide the Center with a year’s worth of start-up chlorine and prepare for a year-end evaluation. The evaluation is vital as it will enable Haiti’s governmental water agency to actively fund the Chlorine Distribution Center, further ensuring its sustainability. We need your support to purchase the $40,000 of chlorine we need and the $6,000 we need for the evaluation.

The most important aspect about both of the projects is that they are community-created and eventually will be completely community-operated. In both cases, leaders in the neighborhoods came to us seeking help. They want their access to clean, safe water to be completely in their hands after our help with design and installation is finished. They want to be self-sustainable. To be able to see the empowered, determined attitudes that our friends in Haiti have is a gift that I want to share, so let me tell you about Angie.

Angie, a resident of Haute Feuille in the Artibonite region, is 17 and has aspirations to be teacher and a comedian. She is quite a hit at her school. Before her town leaders came to us asking us to install chlorinators, Angie and her family used small chlorine tablets to treat the water, given to them by a another small non-profit. They were protected from waterborne diseases.

However, Angie was overjoyed when she heard about the chlorinators and that the community itself would be in charge of maintaining, operating and sustaining the clean water systems. She was excited because she knew that at any time the non-profit that had been providing the small chlorine tablets could leave and her family would be without clean water. It had happened before. She knew that the chlorinators were different. She knew that the success of the chlorinators was going to be dependent on her and her neighbors, not an outside group.  The smile on her face in the picture attached to this letter shows how empowered and happy Angie feels now, a sentiment that many of her neighbors now share.

The desire that Angie and her fellow Haitians have, to be in control of one’s own access to clean, safe water, is what drives us at International Action. We have had a challenging year with two of our top staff becoming ill and understandably needing to leave the group to focus on their own health. It has been tough personally and professionally. But we are committed to Haiti for years to come, and will continue to help the Chlorine Distribution Center flourish and provide Haitians communities with access to clean water. Your support is essential to us achieving these goals faster and effectively, and it is most appreciated!

Attached are pictures from the communities we work with in the Artibonite region as well as a showcase of the Chlorine Distribution Center.


All the Best,

Zach Brehmer, Executive Director 

Community Gathering Water
Community Gathering Water
New Artibonite Sites
New Artibonite Sites

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Organization Information

International Action

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Zach Brehmer
Washington, DC United States