In the fall of 2011, four Konbit Sante infrastructure volunteers ( three engineers and an electrician) traveled to the Justinian Hospital in Cap Haitien, Haiti.
When they arrived, the Justinien Hospital had no working wells. Water shortages were critical.
Primary goals of the trip included: troubleshooting and correcting pump problems at the two existing wells at the hospital, finishing plumbing and electrical connections to a new operating room sterilizer installed on a previous trip, hydraulic evaluation of a newly installed well and installation of pumping equipment in the new supply. Electrical supply problems at the #2 Well were responsible for pump failure at that supply, rendering it out of service. Given the failure of the # 2 Well, hospital staff inadvertently over-drafted the # 1 Well in a desperate attempt to maintain a minimal water supply to the hospital. Unfortunately this resulted in the failure of that supply as well, leaving the hospital without any source of supply. The only alternative to the hospital administration was to purchase a minimal supply of water from outside vendors and then also pay for it to be trucked to the hospital. This was an extreme drain on their already overtaxed operations budget. Fortunately this need was communicated in advance of the shipment of a supply container to Cap Haitien by Konbit Sante. New pumps and other replacement parts were included on that shipment and volunteers believed that they had everything necessary to restore both sources back to operation.
Once in Cap-Haitien, the volunteers quickly mobilized and coordinated its activities to achieve the primary goals. In keeping with the Konbit Sante mission statement, the volunteers not only attempt to fix and repair problems, they also work to teach and impart their skills and knowledge to Haitian staff and hospital personnel. Working long and hard hours together, the team was able to replace the pumps at both the #1 and #2 Wells. New piping was installed at the # 1 Well as part of the pump replacement project. In addition, while the source was down, the old galvanized water main connecting this source to the hospital distribution system was replaced with a new run of plastic water piping.
The restoration of the # 2 Well allowed the team to conduct a simple drawdown observation of the # 3 Well. This test allowed the team to determine whether a hydraulic connection existed between the two sources. Given the close proximity to each other, it was suspected that the pumping of one well would affect the water level in the other. As suspected this connection does exist and this knowledge gave the volunteers the information they needed to install pumping equipment that would allow use of the new source in such a way as to not adversely affect the operation of the other. A new Bison hand pump was installed in the # 3 well to accomplish this objective. The Bison pump had been purchased and shipped on an earlier container by Konbit Sante for use on another supply project that had never come to fruition. As a hand powered pump, it requires no electrical supply giving the hospital a dependable supply of water irregardless of the status of the municipal power system.
Secondary trip goals of the group that were also accomplished during this trip included: the installation of two new washing machines and one new dryer, training of hospital staff in the use and operation of the new laundry equipment, cleaning and lastly, organization and cleaning of the infrastructure work area and supply space.
Since their return, we have been working to preposition a large quantity of supplies for water maintenance and repair. These items will be sent by Konbit Sante on their next shipping container in April 2012.