Thousands of rural Haitians participating in the Rural Water and Sanitation Program financed by the IDB and the Spanish government are receiving potable water systems that will improve health conditions and relieve many women and children from the drudgery of hauling water long distances.
In Gomier, a village in the southwestern department of Grand’Anse, Danette François used to walk half an hour to a well to fetch brackish water. It now takes her just a few minutes to walk to a kiosk where she can purchase properly chlorinated water for two cents a gallon. “The price? It’s really cheap, like a gift,” said François, who has five young children. “I’m happy. My kids are not getting sick.”
The new water systems built by the program are being managed and maintained by local committees with funds raised through tariffs paid by community members.
Improving rural life
Haiti’s serious deficit in potable water and sanitation imposes sharp limits on economic development while contributing to very low living standards for millions of people. The problem is most severe in rural areas, where the majority of the country’s population lives.
Only 30 percent of rural Haitians have potable water services. The remainder relies on water from contaminated rivers, irrigation systems, and rainwater run-off. Women and children are usually assigned the task of collecting and carrying water to the household, which often requires walking a half hour or more.
Where potable water service exists, usually as public spigots, systems often do not function or are unsanitary. Many public systems quickly fall into disrepair; half break down within two years after construction.
The average rural Haitian consumes only about seven liters of water per day, nearly a third the basic minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. Haiti would require an estimated $1 billion in investments to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals for access to water and sanitation by 2015.
Fuente: Inter-American Development Bank