By Alice Urban
It’s been six years since a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. And while the international community rallied together to support the country’s recovery, Haitians still suffer from the effects.
“Even with significant donor input post-earthquake, people continue to consume contaminated water as a result of economic hardship and geographical inaccessibility,” said Mario Andre, Pure Water for the World Acting Country Director in Haiti. “Resources are inadequate, and the private sector is not active in helping to solve or ameliorate the problem.”
When the earthquake struck, Pure Water for the World had significant experience working in some of the country’s poorest slums. With expertise providing water access and hygiene training in schools, orphanages and health clinics, our team on the ground adeptly shifted focus from development-oriented water service provision to emergency response. We delivered clean water to communities severely damaged by the earthquake.
Pure Water for the World continues to work around the country providing clean water biosand filters, hygiene and sanitation training and services to individual homes, health clinics and schools.
We have expanded on our commitment to accelerate access to safe water by offering extensive WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) training programs and consulting services. Through the sharing of expertise with other organizations, they are able to reach significantly more communities with safe water programs and practices.
On this, the sixth anniversary of the earthquake, here are six reasons why Pure Water for the World remains committed to continuing our work in Haiti.
- Economic and social aftershocks remain. “While the aftershocks of the earthquake are long gone, they can still be felt in the form of poverty and economic insecurity,” commented former Prime Minister of Haiti Laurent Lamothe. “Although much progress has been made by relocating the majority of families who had become homeless, some have yet to recover from this psychological and socio-economic trauma,” he added in a recent Huffington Post blog.
- Low water, sanitation and hygiene access still hinders Haiti’s health outcomes. The World Bank estimates that less than half of Haitians have access to safe water, and only 24% of households have access to improved sanitation.
- 98% of cholera cases in the Western Hemisphere are in Haiti. Since the beginning of 2015, more than 30,000 cholera cases were reported in Haiti – one of the biggest epidemics in recent history worldwide. The disease had been virtually nonexistent there for some 100 years n Haiti. But 10 months after the earthquake, it reappeared along the Artibonite River and spread quickly throughout the nation. Access to safe, clean water eliminates the dangerous health risks caused by the cholera bacteria.
- Clean water is an entry point for further development. When families can access clean water and remain in good health, this opens the door for other positive development – parents can go to work, children can go to school, and the family can redirect saved health costs toward other needs.
- Water is essential. Roughly 60-65% of the human body is water. Water is needed to remove toxins from the body, carry nutrients to the cells, and provide essential moisture for proper organ and joint function. People living in rural Haiti consume only about a third of the minimum daily water amount recommended by the World Health Organization (source). Most often, this water is contaminated. They live with chronic dehydration resulting in significant and long-term health issues, particularly among children whose bodies and brains are developing.
- There is HOPE. Pure Water for the World is working hard to bring Haitians clean water and hygiene solutions that combat cholera and other water-borne diseases resulting from unsafe water and sanitation. With your help, PWW has served over 6,800 families and more than 2,000 schools, hospitals, orphanages and clinics.
For Andre, it is very important that the international community continue to care about WASH in Haiti. “Many of the problems that existed before the earthquake still exist,” he said. “We are working hard to tackle these challenges.”
On this 6th anniversary of the earthquake, consider changing the future for a child or a family by making a tax-deductible donation (donate here). Just $25 gives safe water to a child. $300 provides a comprehensive safe water and hygiene solution to an entire family.
Your gift will provide improved health and new hope for these resilient families.