You Probably Don’t Want To Know About Haiti’s Sewage Problems

You Probably Don’t Want To Know About Haiti’s Sewage Problems. NPR: Goats and Soda, July 2017.

People dump trash and raw sewage into canals that run through Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When it rains, the canals overflow and flood poor neighborhoods. John W. Poole/NPR

People dump trash and raw sewage into canals that run through Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When it rains, the canals overflow and flood poor neighborhoods. John W. Poole/NPR

The rain began on Good Friday. It fell into the roofless ruins of Port-au-Prince’s Catholic cathedral. It swirled through stalls in the market downtown. In the hills above Haiti’s capital, the rain ran off the clay roof tiles of upscale homes.

No matter where the rain fell, it was all destined for the same place: the system of concrete canals that cut through the city and down to the sea.

At the edge of the city next to the shore, the rain pounded on the zinc roof of Jean Claude Derlia’s single-story cinder block home. His neighborhood, Project Drouillard, is dense with families packed into homes like his. Most people who grew up in Project Drouillard have stayed, as he has. The community is close-knit, poor and socially isolated from downtown Port-au-Prince.

It is also extremely vulnerable to flooding from the canal full of trash and raw sewage that bordered it on one side. After a rainstorm a few years ago, Derlia had been swept away by a wave of sludge and nearly died before neighbors fished him out. He was sick for weeks after it happened, but he survived.

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