Health
 Haiti
Project #6628

Combat Haiti's Spreading Cholera Crisis

by International Action
Vetted
Children of farming families in the Artibonite
Children of farming families in the Artibonite

Diseases caused by protozoa – micro-organisms – are now the most common waterborne diseases in Haiti, causing 65% of infections. A protozoa called Crypto is the main culprit. Chlorine is very effective against cholera, but is not effective against Crypto. In the Dessalines commune, this means we need to create new water sources that use water from protected aquifers -- usually devoid of bacterial, protozoan or virus-based infections.

Furthermore, the Artibonite Region is one of the most fertile areas in Haiti, but the farming families here have produced very little food over the past two years because there has been severe drought. This has crippled the peoples' ability to grow and sell food throughout the area. They need access to clean, safe underground water.

This project will provide Dessalines with the clean water they need for drinking and for agriculture. Our team will work with partners to first map where the water sources need to be and then create the wells and the water systems. International Action has been working in Haiti, with water, since 2005, and in the Artibonite Region for four years. We know the area well and have recognized the importance of including many local and international partners, which is the best way to achieve success in Haiti.

We cannot do this alone. We need your help to raise anoth $9,000 to comeplete the next step of this project, empowering under-served farming families to gain access to clean, safe water. 

The Process and Next Steps

To create new water sources we are going to partner with several different Haiti-based and international organizations (Haiti Outreach being the main one), as well as different branches of the Haitian water agency, DINEPA. The information will then be used to empower the people in the Artibonite Region to organize and install a water supply or treatment system.

Over the past 10 years, several smaller organizations have been partnering with DINEPA in this manner in the region next to the Artibonite, the Northeast. They have found great success using the aforementioned approach because it focuses on the most important part of any water or sanitation intervention – the long-term operation, maintenance and management. We have found that this approach is the best, which has been the main focus of the Chlorine Distribution System.

Over the next two years, we plan to work in two of the fifteen communes in the Artibonite Region, including Dessalines and Gonaives. These two communes are home to roughly 230,000 people.

1. Contact Local Authorities -- (9/1/2016 -- 11/01/2016): The general local authorities in Haiti, called the KASEKS, and the local water and sanitation authorities in Haiti, called the TEPACs, will be involved throughout the whole process, as it is their country and their mandate to provide their communities with the services that they need. First, our team find out where they think the water sources are in the Dessaline commune. Currently, there is very poor information on this in Haiti, and this project will help provide the Haitian government a base of knowledge, so they can better address the needs of their people.

2. GPS Rapid Assessment of Infrastructure, Potable Water Access map and Drilling Guidance Map --(11/01/2016 -- 2/01/2017): After the team meets with the local Haitian authorities to share information and agree on a partnership for the project, the team will begin mapping the water infrastructure of the Dessalines commune (a commune is a set of neighborhoods) to find out which neighborhoods need access to clean water for drinking and agriculture purposes.

3. Selection of Communities and Decision on Community- or Business-run Model -- (2/01/2017 -- 6/01/2017): This is the most important part of the project. First, communities need to officially submit a letter with the approval of the local authorities, showcasing their initial commitment and need for the water sources. Then, our team meet the neighborhood leaders. Over months of meetings, our team guides the community, via questions, to come up with their own plan. Some communities will decide on a neighborhood-run committee and system, and some will decide upon a for-profit business model. In all cases, a contract will be created between the communities and International Action, to help create clear responsibilities.

4. Construction of Three Sites; Officially Open the Water Site with a Community Ceremony -- (6/15/2017 -- 8/15/2017): Once three communities make it through the vetting and guidance process, construction of the sites begin, often including the creation a well, and the installation of a pump, base, well house, piping, water tank, and chlorinator (if chlorination is needed).

5. Follow-up -- (Two years of monthly follow-up from inauguration): The follow-up is one of the least expensive parts of the project, but is one of the most valuable. Long-term management of water sites in Haiti is a great challenge. Without a proper follow-up plan, only 40% of water sources in Haiti remain operational after two years. Our team will follow-up once a month to ensure that the communities are adhering to their management plan and to offer coaching and guidance if there are pressing questions or challenges.

These five steps will be repeated, starting 9/01/2017 for the Gonaives commune (also in the Artibonite Region, one of the biggest market areas in Haiti). If you would like to see more detailed information about each step, please let me know and I would be happy to provide.

Impacts and Outcomes

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.

Everthing we do is in partnership with like-minded, generous individuals, like you, and I look forward to what we can coninue to accomplish, together. Thank you very much for all you do.

All the best,

Zach

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.

 

Best,

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.

Links:

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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Organization Information

International Action

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

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