International Action's Campaign for Clean Water in Haiti
Below is a blog we received concerning International Action's campaign to make access to clean water a reality throughout Port au Prince. Their approach is to provide cost effective tablet chlorinators and to build the capacity of community members to manage them. After reading the blog below, take a look at their website and this short video clip about their work. If you would like to stay updated, you can also sign up for their e-newsletter. There are ample opportunities to support their work whether as a donor, an intern, or a volunteer.
Nearly every water source in Haiti – rivers, streams, springs and wells – is contaminated by human waste. There are no public sewage treatment or disposal systems anywhere in the country – even in the large cities. The lack of clean drinking water contributes to the highest infant and child mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, the leading killer of children is waterborne disease – hepatitis, typhoid and diarrhea – all carried in water used for drinking, cooking, washing.
Children who repeatedly suffer from water borne disease miss school, become malnourished, and are more vulnerable to other leading causes of sickness and death in Haiti such as malaria, measles, etc. Repeated bouts of illness and malnourishment at a young age can impair cognitive development.
In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, we are installing the country’s first practical system for chlorinating water supplies. Since May 2006, we have installed more than 100 chlorinators on neighborhood water tanks in Haiti’s capital, protecting the water supply for some 400,000 people.
At the end of five years, we aim to have installed 500 chlorinators covering most of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, giving clean water for the first time to 2.5 million people. Our special tablet chlorinators require no electricity, but operate on the gravity flow of water from city or village water sources. Designed and provided by NORWECO, Norwalk, OH; they are simple to install, easy to operate and trouble-free to maintain. They are very effective in developing countries like Haiti.
The chlorine tablets used are also special – designed to be stable and safe, even in the difficult storage conditions in developing countries. International Action chlorine tablets are reasonable in cost - in Jalousie for 50,000 people the price per month is $50 or less than one cent per person per month – they are provided by Arch Chemicals a world leader firm in water sanitization, located in Norwalk, CT.
International Action focuses on the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. We have installations in Jalousie, Delmas, Tokyo, Cité Soleil, Simmond Pelé, Carrefour, etc. The biggest installation in Arcahaie, a town outside of Port-au-Prince, gives access to clean and safe water to 100,000 people!
Even in less stable parts of Port-au-Prince, International Action is able to work with communities to establish and maintain chlorination systems. International Action has also intervened and installed their chlorinators in hospitals, schools, orphanages and is currently working with jails of the Port-au-Prince area.
We provide chlorinators and tablets for free as well as training for local board members who will be responsible for maintaining the system. We seek to encourage local “ownership” of each water system and teach the skills needed to sustain the systems in future years. Local water boards are trained by an International Action staff of “circuit riders” to monitor chlorine levels, make repairs, and educate their neighbors about clean water. Our staff rides the circuit of installed chlorinators once a month to check on maintenance, supply the local Water Boards with chlorine tablets and answer their questions.
Doctors, mothers, and teachers all have noticed the change: children are healthier. The number of patients for waterborne diseases has considerably decreased in local clinics. Mothers trust our water and give it to their babies with no worries. Teachers who have seen their students collapse in class because of the lack of access to water are now thrilled to find the pupils energetic and eager to learn. Our chlorinators are reliable, safe and have gained many supporters in Port-au-Prince.
“When I give it to my baby even when she was 3 she did not get sick. Personally before the intervention of International Action in the neighborhood I could not drink the water from CAMEP, I used only to wash clothes and cook. I saved a lot of money now because I use to buy treated water at a very high price for my children.” Says Janita Jean-Louis a resident of Jalousie. Also, Dr. Alain Louis, a scientist with a laboratory in the city, tested the water in Jalousie and confirmed that water borne pathogens the are no longer present in Jalousie’s water.
“I did not know that there was an NGO in the neighborhood working on water purification. No one told me. Last year around this time I noticed that the amount of patients had decreased. I wondered what was happening. I thought it was a miracle from God. One day I met Mr. Dalebrun and his people. He asked me about the cases that I encountered the most. This is when he informed me about his work in the neighborhood. This is when I understood how there was a decrease in the cases of diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, etc…” Says Francoise Larivaux, a nurse from Cité Canada a neighborhood of the capital.
Dr. Remy, a pediatrician who works for the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) churches, said that contaminated water makes children repeatedly sick and they often miss classes. Children go all day in class without water and some simply collapse before the day’s end. Now, the 233 students at National Virginia Sampeur School drink clean water. Dr. Remy related that the clean drinking water became a big event in the 2007-2008 academic year. Even AME’s neighbors are amazed.
Today more than 400,000 people have access to clean water, most of them children. For many it is the first help they have had in years and this time it has changed their lives for the better. Children are less sick; they can attend class and enjoy their life to the fullest. With our clean water; people can now spend their money on other vital necessities without worrying about having to purchase expensive buckets coming from private basins or trucking.
We welcome collaboration with other organizations or institutions such as hospitals, schools and orphanages. Our organization relies on the generosity of concerned individuals and organizations in order to expand access to clean water to other neighborhoods in Port au Prince.
Our goal is to be able to provide access to clean water for 2.5 million people by 2010. A gift of $265 will purchase, ship and install a small chlorinator for a community of up to 10,000 people; $995 will purchase, ship and install a large chlorinator able to provide water for up to 50,000 people. When properly maintained, these chlorinators will last for more than 25 years. These interventions are cost-effective and have a positive impact on the community, especially for women and children.
The gift of clean water is the gift of life. For more information you can visit our website at www.haitiwater.org. To inquire about internships, volunteering, or partnering with us please email us at email@example.com.