“Before the chlorination project started in the zone, children often died of diarrhea, fever and infections, but until today we did not registered many such cases,” says Rosemond Joseph from Drouillard/Cite Soleil, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“There is a new intolerable thing in Drouillard, humans live together with animals.” He continues.
“This situation does not allow for a sanitary environment. We have a level of pollution exaggerated, if the water was not treated, residents would be exposed to that pollution all the time.”
The chlorination project Rosemond is talking about is a result of the Campaign for Clean Water in Haiti led by International Action.
Their mission is to save lives in Haiti. International Action installs water treatment systems on local neighborhoods water tanks protecting people from waterborne diseases – such as typhoid, hepatitis, cholera and chronic diarrhea – the main killer of children in the developing world.
These special systems are called chlorinators, they require no electricity, but operate on the gravity flow of water from city or village water sources. They are simple to install, easy to operate and trouble-free to maintain. The chlorinators can hold up to twenty chlorine tablets that dilute in the water following set levels, and kill the waterborne diseases causing bacteria.
Today these systems are protecting more than 400,000 people in the Port-au-Prince area with clean,safe water.
In Haiti, nearly every water source is contaminated with human, animal and other wastes. As Rosemond explains it, people are constantly exposed to water pollution. Those who cannot afford to go and purchase expensive purified water from private basins, have no choice but to cook with and drink the same water they wash their clothes with, bathe in and share with the animals. The consequences are dramatic and too many people, most of them children, contract and die from waterborne diseases.
In addition to local communities’ water tanks, International Action intervenes in local hospitals, and also schools. Many schools do not have a proper water system and children sometimes have to go all day without water to drink, the weakest collapse before the end of the day. Clean water is essential to the mental and physical growth of children; repeatedly sick during childhood, they miss vital schooling and fall behind in almost every way.
2,700 students now receive clean water from International Action’s tablet chlorinator, they can attend school and have the energy required to memorize their lessons.
“I did not know that there was an NGO in the neighborhood working on water purification. No one told me” says Francoise Larivaux, a nurse at the clinic in Cité Canada, another neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. “Last year around this time I noticed that the amount of patients had decreased. I wondered what was happening. I thought it was a miracle from God. One day I met Mr. Dalebrun and his people,” She continues “He informed me about his work in the neighborhood. This is when I understood how there was a decrease in the cases of diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, etc…”
Mr. Dalebrun is International Action’s Director of Operations in Port-au-Prince, with his team of plumbers he regularly visits their sites in order to supply local water boards – in charge of the systems once they have been installed – with new loads of chlorine tablets, and answers any upcoming question.
Miss Francoise concludes “I asked residents about the quality of the water and they all answered in the same way ‘God sent us good water Miss Francoise’ “