Hurricane Matthew created a critical situation for water and sanitation. Floodwaters contaminated with sewage, dead animals, and other harmful materials flowed through towns, homes, and farms for days. Most of the public water pumps were damaged or destroyed by wind-driven debris, making it impossible for residents to get safe drinking water or wash. Compassion for Haiti and other organizations immediately began sending money, chlorine tablets, and other emergency supplies to Etienne for him and his agents to transport and distribute. Once service providers were able to reach the hardest-hit areas, we funded repairs for damaged pump heads.
Currently, we stay in touch with our local Engineers Without Borders chapter regarding future water and sanitation projects.
Even before the 2010 earthquake and ensuing cholera epidemic, safe water for drinking, cooking, and washing was a serious issue in Haiti. Few people have running water to their homes, and even these municipal supplies are contaminated. Most people draw their water from rivers and streams or from shared wells and village taps, many of which are not safe. Diarrheal illnesses are common, costing countless days away from work and school. Worse still, children and adults die regularly from water-borne diseases that could be cured with inexpensive medications (if they were available to the sufferers) or prevented by access to clean water.
Compassion for Haiti, in cooperation with Engineers Without Borders, provided twelve wells for the town of Les Anglais and several nearby communities. The pumps are busy all hours of the day, meeting the needs of thousands of residents. We continue to test for water quality and maintain the heavily-used machinery. Drilling a well and installing the pump costs $2500.
Our 2015 project in this category was the construction of a dual-pit composting latrine for a large school (500-plus students) in Les Anglais. Engineers Without Borders collaborated with the town council in selecting a site that not only had great need, but would be highly visible to the whole community as a model for future installations.
Composting latrines are of great importance for several reasons. First, many people in towns and villages have no toilet facilities available to them at all. Secondly, private and shared latrines fill up quickly, are abandoned, and new ones must be dug. Finally, all those latrines, active and abandoned, contaminate the ground water, and thus the wells. Concrete-lined pits prevent waste from contaminating soil and water. Dual pits allow the contents of one to fully compost while the other is in use. The compost is removed and used to enrich the soil around fruit trees and other upright crops, leaving that pit available for reuse. This cycle repeats about twice a year. This facility cost $8000.