Tag Archives: Haiti

Jay Graham/USAID – Photos from Haiti

WASH in Haiti by Jay Graham 

Photos highlight two organizations – SOIL and Deep Springs International – working in earthquake affected areas

Haitians turn to waste to combat cholera, deforestation

April 17, 2011 – Desperately poor Haiti is finding a cheap source of fuel in recycling human excrement, a move that could help put a dent in a cholera epidemic and slow the country’s pervasive deforestation.

The “biodigester“, which converts organic waste to biogas and a liquid fertilizer rich in nutrients, requires little infrastructure: toilets linked to a sealed, brick-lined well connected to a basin. Seventy of these devices are up and running, while another 70 are in the works.

Deprived of air, the bacteria thriving in human excrement eat 85 percent of the refuse while producing methane gas, explained Martin Wartchow, pointing his lighter above a small tube hanging out of the rank. A powerful flame was immediately set ablaze.

“The remaining 15 percent of organic waste is thrown out with the excess water in a green area where they biodegrade,” continued the hydrologist, who is working with the Brazilian nongovernmental group Viva Rio in Port-au-Prince.

“Not a single chemical product is used and at the end of the line, the water we collect is completely clean.”

The engineer plunged his hand in a basin filled with filtered, clear and, incredibly, odorless liquid. “We even raise fish here.”

Recently completed at a Viva Rio center that hosts over 600 young Haitians each day, the installation is due to be linked to a cafeteria under construction to replace wood coals.

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Haiti: disease model predicts more cholera and potential impact of clean water

The number of Haitians infected with cholera may reach 779,000 by the end of November 2011, nearly twice as many as UN estimates, according to a new study [1].

The UN estimate is “essentially a guess, based on no data, and ignoring the dynamics of cholera epidemics” co-author Dr. Jason Andrews told SciDev.Net.

Using a mathematical model of the epidemic, the study projects 779 000 cases of cholera and 11,100 deaths between March 1 and November 30, 2011, if there are no new interventions to curb transmission and treat victims.

The researchers estimate that 170,000 cases of cholera and 3,400 deaths could be averted by a combination of clean water, vaccination and greater distribution of antibiotics.

A 1% per week reduction in consumption of contaminated water would the greatest effect by averting 105,000 cholera cases and 1,500 deaths. Vaccination of 10% of the population would avert 63,000 cases and 900 deaths. The extension of the use of antibiotics to all patients with severe dehydration and half of patients with moderate dehydration would avert 9,000 cases and 1,300 deaths.

Andrews told SciDev.Net that the interventions could be achieved if the international community was willing to invest in them.

But Marcos Espinal, head of health surveillance, disease prevention and control at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), defended the UN’s approach. He told SciDev.Net that “the model used up to now is consistent with reality. We have seen just over 250,000 people with cholera in six months”.

A cholera epidemic broke out in Haiti in late October 2010, in the wake of the earthquake in January of the same year. The latest UN figures for the epidemic, published on 31 March 2011, are 267,224 cases, 4,749 deaths and a mortality rate of 1,8%.

[1] Andrews, J.R. and Basu, S. (2011). Transmission dynamics and control of cholera in Haiti : an epidemic model. The Lancet, 16 March 2011 (Article in Press). DOI: (free registration is required to view this article)

Source: María Elena Hurtado, SciDev.Net, 28 March 2011

Battling cholera with NFC RFID-tracked drinking water in Haiti 

Deep Springs International (DSI), a non-profit organization based in Pennsylvania, USA, and Nokia Research Center (NRC), Palo Alto, California, are teaming up to ensure the supply of clean drinking water in Haiti with NFC (near field communication) technology.

DSI has been delivering water treatment systems (which essentially consist of a covered 19-liter bucket with a spigot at the bottom) and a locally manufactured chlorine solution it has labeled Gadyen Dlo (Creole for "water guardian") since 2007.. Photo: Michael Ritter, DSI

Water treatment kits are being provided to track chlorine levels in household drinking water using NFC-enabled cell phones. NRC provided the health workers with approximately 50 Nokia 6212 NFC-enabled phones while UPM RFID supplied UPM BullsEye™ NFC tags with NXP Mifare Ultralight chip. Joseph “Jofish” Kaye, Senior Research Scientist, NRC, initiated the project together with David Holstius, a student and Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, who developed the software application for mobile phones.

Families in the most rural areas in Haiti will have one water treatment kit consisting of a five-gallon (19 litre) plastic bucket with a lid and spigot. The RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are attached to buckets for storing the treated drinking water and delivered to families together with a chlorine solution and written instructions for using the kit. When DSI’s water technicians visit their homes, they check whether they are using the kits properly and provide additional chlorine solutions. The technicians will read the tags using NFC cell phones loaded with software guiding them to ask relevant questions about the water being tested. They then send the data to DSI’s headquarters via SMS. The software application uses the Frontline SMS platform.

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Haiti: US$ 10 million World Bank grant to bolster efforts against cholera, WHO warns that 400,00 could be affected

In response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti, the World Bank is preparing a US$ 10 million Cholera Emergency Grant as part its US$ 479 million reconstruction support. As of 22 November 2010 the outbreak has caused 1,523 deaths and could kill up to 10,000 people and affect 40,000 if the outbreak is not contained, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The UN has appealed for US$ 164 million for additional treatment centres, scaled-up public information campaigns, supplies of medical equipment, rehydration salts, water purification tablets and bars of soap to respond to the outbreak.

The US$ 10 million grant will bolster the surveillance and monitoring capacity of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) and the Haitian National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (DINEPA). The initiative is aligned with the Cholera Inter-Sector Response Strategic Plan for Haiti, under the leadership of MSPP and DINEPA.

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Haiti: unarmed in the fight against cholera, death toll passes 500

Cholera poster Haiti

Cholera prevention poster in Haiti. In reality clean water, sanitation and nearby health clinics are absent in most rural communities. Photo: PAHO

Safe water and sanitation, vital tools to combat the current cholera epidemic, are absent in most communities  in Haiti, reports IRIN. The death toll rose to 501 on 6 November 2010, up from 442 on 3 November, and hospitalisations for cholera totaled 7,359, up from 6,742.

Haiti is one of the few countries in the world where both urban and rural sanitation coverage has steadily decreased between 1990 and 2008, according to the WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, March 2010).

Historical legacies of inequality, corruption, and extreme poverty all contribute to the Haitian government’s systemic inability to deliver safe water and sanitation.

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UN probes base as source of cholera outbreak in Haiti

Oct 27, 2010 - MIREBALAIS, Haiti (AP) — U.N. investigators took samples of foul-smelling waste trickling behind a Nepalese peacekeeping base toward an infected river system on Wednesday, following persistent accusations that excrement from the newly arrived unit caused the cholera epidemic that has sickened more than 4,000 people in the earthquake-ravaged nation.

Associated Press journalists who were visiting the base unannounced happened upon the investigators. Mission spokesman Vincenzo Pugliese confirmed after the visit that the military team was testing for cholera — the first public acknowledgment that the 12,000-member force is directly investigating allegations its base played a role in the outbreak.

Meanwhile the epidemic continued to spread, with cases confirmed in two new departments in Haiti’s north and northeast, said U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokeswoman Imogen Wall. At least 303 people have died and 4,722 been hospitalized.

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Haiti: cholera toll tops 200, all affected families to receive WASH packages

People receive rehydration serum in the parking lot of the St. Nicholas hospital in Saint Marc, Haiti. (Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)

The number of deaths in Haiti’s cholera outbreak has risen to 208 and the number of confirmed cases to 2,646 in the Artibonite and Central departments. There were five confirmed cases of cholera in the capital Port-au-Prince.

Humanitarian organisations working in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector have agreed to distribute WASH supplies for 100 per cent of affected households. The package for a family of 5 for one week will contain 5 bars of soap, water purification tablets to ensure 40 liters of water per day per family, and 10 rehydration salt sachets. The WASH Cluster is collaborating with the Haitian water and sanitation directorate (DINEPA).

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Haiti: Red Cross joins international organizations in hygiene drive as rains intensify

The Haitian Red Cross Society (HRCS) joined international NGOs working in water and sanitation in Haiti [on 25 May 2010] to stage a special street event opposite Port-au-Prince’s Place Saint-Pierre camp, where an estimated 6,000 people settled after the 12 January disaster.

HRCS volunteers led a crocodile of some 300 children from the camp around the Place Saint-Pierre square in Pétionville to where an interagency health promotion fair was held in tented stands.

The event was organized by the Hygiene Promotion sub-cluster and included groups like Oxfam and Save the Children.

According to Pauline Mwaniki, coordinator of the sub-cluster, “the fact that there has been no major outbreak of disease is partly due to humanitarian agencies’ efforts to spread hygiene messages.”

“With the rainy season intensifying,” Mwaniki added, “the risks are increasing though due to overcrowding in the camps so we are planning to launch a nationwide health awareness campaign.”

Storm drain

Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death of children under five in Haiti. Even before the earthquake, children could expect to fall ill between four and six times a year.

“There is diarrhoea in the camps but our hygiene promotion messages are helping in the fight against the disease, ” said HRCS health coordinator Sherley Bernard, who helped lead the children in songs and dances intended to convey key health messages in a fun way.

“Now that the rainy season has really started, we have to intensify our efforts to ensure camp communities practise good personal hygiene and that they know how to store water safely and dispose of waste.”

The Place Saint-Pierre camp was one of the first in the immediate aftermath of the quake to receive worldwide publicity about its insanitary, overcrowded conditions.

A week after the quake, French television reported from the camp that the focus on providing immediate medical care to victims meant hygiene had to “take a backseat”.

Things are better there now but still far from perfect. People have safe water, but as Friday’s event got underway women stripped to the waist bathed standing up in the newly dug storm drain surrounding the camp.

Hardware

Workers from Save the Children engage children from Place Saint-Pierre camp in Pétionville, Port-au-Prince, in games about key hygiene practices including hand-washing with soap. Photo: José Manuel Jiménez

Led by Red Cross volunteers and staff from the organizations taking part, children from Place Saint-Pierre camp took to the streets to sing about how washing hands with soap and water can save lives.

Amongst them was Milien Robenson, 13, whose family has been living in the camp since their house collapsed.

“It is really good to be able to sing and play games,” he said, “as it takes my mind off the earthquake and I no longer feel so afraid.”

Mothers came from the Place Saint-Pierre camp to hear how washing hands with soap after going to the toilet or before handling food and babies can prevent diarrhoea.

At the Pétionville event, mothers were given a bar of soap to encourage healthy behaviour, but organizers said the biggest challenge is matching messages with actual hardware like drains, toilets and washing facilities.

“We have an integrated approach,” said Gaelle Fohr, an International Federation health promotion delegate, who also spent the day at Place Saint-Pierre.

“In each of the camps where we organize health promotion activities, we also provide water, sanitation and health services.”

So far more than 150,000 people have been reached with hygiene promotion work in more than 100 camps where HRCS volunteers work with the International Federation and National Societies.

Flag day

Twenty-three-year old volunteer Jeanne Jaboin is a trained nurse and works for the French Red Cross in several camps.

Like many of the volunteers she also lost her house in the earthquake and is living with her husband and three children in a makeshift camp by the sea.

“In my camp there are no latrines and the water gets easily contaminated,” says Jaboin, “but at least I can use what I’ve learnt as a Red Cross volunteer to help my community stay healthy and avoid disease.”

Even though some of the HRCS volunteers lost homes, family and livelihoods, they remain committed to helping others less fortunate than themselves.

Saturday’s event had been originally planned for Haitian flag day on 18 May – the anniversary of the adoption of the country’s flag, made from the red and blue of the French tricolour, but it had to be postponed.

“Even at this difficult time we are proud to be Haitians,” said Bernard, “and as Red Cross volunteers we want to do everything we can to contribute to our country’s recovery.”

Source: Claire Doole, IFRC, 25 May 2010

UNICEF – Young people help to improve sanitation in Haiti