Here’s an update on the water and sanitation situation in Haiti from our resident expert, Brooke Riley.
As we look back over the last year in Haiti, we must acknowledge the critical role water and sanitation has played in the country historically and in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck one year ago.
Before the earthquake, 45 percent of the population lacked access to safe water, and a staggering 83 percent of the population lacked access to sanitation. The consequences of not having access to safe water and basic sanitation are enormous for the Haitian population. Even before the earthquake, diarrhea — which can result from consumption of contaminated water — killed one in five Haitian children each year.
The earthquake exacerbated the problems of an already weak infrastructure and highlighted the need for serious investments in the water and sanitation infrastructure in order to achieve health and economic gains. It is estimated that the earthquake caused $235 million in damages to water and sanitation facilities, and 437 settlements currently lack adequate sanitation. Even more disturbing, a severe and deadly cholera outbreak — which started in October and continues to plague the country today — has led to 171,304 cases and claimed the lives of 3,651 Haitians.
Although numerous challenges persist, there are many groups working hard every day in Haiti to bring clean water and sanitation to communities. While the task at hand is enormous, it’s encouraging to see the work that is being done across Haiti, including the installation of family latrines, promotion of hygiene practices and repair of water infrastructure systems. InterAction’s Haiti Aid Map provides an overview of all water and sanitation projects in the country and a description of each.