The Water Crisis in Haiti
The water and sanitation situation in Haiti is among the most dire in the Western hemisphere. According to the WHO/UNICEF 2012 Joint Monitoring Program report, 85% of urban residents and 51% of rural residents have access to improved water services. Access to an improved sanitation facility is extremely low in both urban (24%) and rural (10%) areas of the country.
Haiti is considered a water-stressed country. Total available water resources per capita are about 1,660 cubic meters (just under the 1,700 threshold). Less than 1% of these resources are in use. Groundwater potential exists in the mountainous areas and in some coastal areas, but accessing this has been a challenge for many communities. Few water treatment facilities are properly functioning for the general public in the country. Soil erosion and deforestation have also contributed to diminished water quality. Moreover, Haiti’s seasonal rainfall patterns provide too much rain for some during segments of the year and too little for others during the dry season.
Current GDP per capita is approximately $1,300. An estimated 80% of people live below the poverty line. As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti has to deal with issues of poverty and water scarcity on a daily basis. According to a study conducted by The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, "only 55.2 percent of the population has access to an improved water source, while close to 70 percent does not have direct access to potable water. These figures, however, almost definitely overstate Haitians' access to improved water sources, since public systems are rarely available year round" (15, CHRGJ, et al).
Expenses also often create problems with water availability. The World Bank estimates that, "around 54 percent of the population lives on less than US$1 a day and 78 percent on less than US$2" (2001 data). The people of Haiti often resort to gathering water from 'garbage-filled' rivers to supply their households with water for their daily needs, including cooking and drinking when water becomes too expensive or there they do not have access to a clean water source (36, CHRGJ, et al).
Access to clean, fresh water is a main concern in Haiti, where waterborne illnesses, such as typhoid, cholera, and chronic diarrhea, are the cause of more than half of the deaths in the country every year. Contaminated water is also one of the leading causes of childhood illness and the very high infant death rate in Haiti (57 for every 1000 births) .
Following the massive 7.0 earthquake in early 2010, the problems of water scarcity have increased greatly. The earthquake had a devastating effect on the entire country, including the already inadequate clean water supply. Earthquakes often cause damage to wells and water systems, which are a major source of fresh water for the people of Haiti.
The Water4 Solution in Haiti
Water4 was initially invited to Haiti as a partnership with the Southern Baptist General Convention Disaster Relief group. During 2010, the SBGC took regular trips to Haiti to install the Water4 hand pump and cap more than 100 open wells in and around the Port Au Prince area.
Since 2010, additional efforts have arisen in Haiti including other drilling projects north of Port Au Prince and in the greater Cap Haitian area.