This month the residents of Port-au-Prince are suffering from important water shortages. In an effort to relieve them Dalebrun Esther and our team of plumbers have been going around the poorest neighborhoods of the capital on a rotating basis and supplying the population with clean, safe water; this prevents unsafe behaviors such as using water from contaminated rivers for drinking, cooking and bathing.
A drastic increase in violent crimes has recently taken jails of Haiti way beyond their capacity. According to Clarens Renois from the caribbeannetnews.com, inmates live in inhuman conditions. "Amid increasing arrests of drug traffickers, kidnappers and the arrival of numerous Haitian criminals extradited from Canada and the United States... inmates often lack water, medical care or enough room to sleep lying down." Haiti's Penitentiary Administration Director, Jean-Roland Célestin, admits, "Conditions inside are awful. The facilities are overwhelmed and no longer meet international standards, but we cannot do any better."
There is a way to disinfect water using only sunlight and plastic bottles. Contaminated water is put into clear plastic bottles and exposed to strong full sun for 6 hours. Placing the bottles on a roof for six hours will do the job.
During the month of October, our team in Haiti has been making a lot of progress on helping populations that have been struck by hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike. We have installed a large chlorinator in Arcahaie, a town located on the Western coast about 20 miles above Port-au-Prince. This chlorinator provides clean water for the 100,000 inhabitants. In collaboration with CAMEP, the entity in charge of water supply in the Metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, three more chlorinators have been set up on water tanks in Delmas 65 and Foyeau-ville, two neighborhoods of the capital.
We just received 500,000 doses of de-worming medicine in Port-au-Prince. We will distribute the pills through our local Water Boards in 23 neighborhoods and several school systems in the city.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says worms eat up to 20% of a child's nutritional intake everyday. Haitians are among the poorest fed children in the world, and no child there can afford to lose 20% of their food.
From September 1 to September 9 2008, Haiti endured a tragedy. Three of the four hurricanes that hit Haiti, destroyed every household in almost all of the 10 departments of the country and the entire food supply. This catastrophe caused extremely high water pollution. To overcome this epidemic, AME-SADA the humanitarian relief and development entity of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, asked International Action in treating some of the polluted water supplies. On the first day the team treated nine wells in Cabaret. This effort provided a dozen families with safe drinking water.
My name is Paulette Champagne. I am 55 years old. I have lived in this neighborhood of Port-au-Prince – Villa Rosa – for 22 years. I ask you to please transmit not only my thanks, but the thanks of all the residents of Villa Rosa to your principal donors.
In July, International Action installed chlorinators in three schools providing clean and safe water to 1,633 children. International Action's intervention is a miracle according to Dr. Rémy, the pediatrician in charge of the schools for the African Methodist Episcopal Church Service and Development Agency (AME-SADA). Before the installations, children would go all day without water and sometimes faint to the dismay of their teacher. Now the chlorinators will provide them with clean water and give them the energy to focus and be livelier in class.
This month the focus is on schools, and providing clean water to students in need. We are working with AME-SADA, an organization that works to improve schools and nutrition centers. Certain schools do not have any chance to benefit from our chlorinators because of lack of infrastructure or water supply, but we have found three schools where installations will be possible. A pediatrician working for AME-SADA, tells us that the water makes the children sick with typhoid, malaria, and diarrhea. After we installed a chlorinator, these illnesses have evaporated. Dr. Remy claims that it's the highest satisfaction the students have ever had during the 2007-2008 school year. Neighbors are amazed with our work.
Holding as many as 20 four-inch tablets of chlorine, the chlorinators we use in Port-au-Prince can treat 5,000 gallons of water each day. Most of our sites serve up to 10,000 Haitians by providing water to family members who stand in line with 5-gallon plastic buckets. When full, each bucket weighs forty pounds, a heavy burden for a child who totes one.
April 22 was a huge day for Haitian water projects. A workshop was held in order to review the progress of the Clean Water Campaign and look at the work ahead of us. Dozens of representatives from all major towns and local NGO's were in attendance, including members from our International Action Washington D.C. staff, Lindsay Mattison and Youngmin Chang. Other groups included Rotary International and Pure Water for the World, and several radio stations such as Radio Caraïbes and the television station Télé 11.
This month we are busy preparing a big meeting on April 22nd with community leaders to discuss and analyze the clean water effort. Several prominent organizations will be there, including an international ambassador from Rotary International. Two members of our Washington office staff are attending, if the political situation in Haiti stabilizes.
This month a forum at the Montana Hotel took place sponsored by the MTPTC, the national public works ministry. All the actors in the public sector along with several NGOs attended. The meeting focused on how to reform the public water system and provide clean water based on a fair price policy and shared loyalty to the public. The meeting showcased a partnership between the Haitian state and NGOs.