Tag Archives: Action Against Hunger

Haiti: international aid efforts moving slowly but surely

Sanitation conditions in Haiti are gradually improving thanks to the efforts of aid workers following the earthquake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince on 12 January 2010. However, progress has been slow and there are many obstacles that still need to be overcome.

As of 31 January 2010, the damage from the earthquake has left 112,405 dead, 196,595 injured and over 11 million people homeless, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Haitian capital lacks sewerage infrastructure and the earthquake ruptured the city’s water lines. Garbage is also accumulating in the streets which is exacerbating the health risks.

The WASH Cluster is now reaching 500,000 people with 5 litres per person per day, according to the DFID situation report of 2 February 2010. With water provision now adequate, sanitation is the next priority. The cluster reports that 7,000 latrines are needed. A distribution plan for 1,169 latrine slabs has been agreed with partners in Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Jacmel.

UNICEF video on emergency water and sanitation in Haiti

The WASH Cluster Haiti Update of 30 January 2010 reports that 292 latrines have been completed or are under construction across the country, serving a potential 29,000 people assuming 1 latrine serves 100 people. The Sanitation Strategic Working Group composed of the WASH Cluster, UNICEF, Oxfam, Care, World Vision, ACF and ICRC are proposing the use of portable chemical toilets through a joint venture between a local sanitation firm and Armal Inc.

Slow Progress

Action Against Hunger (ACF) is distributing potable water and food, although the recovery process is moving slowly, according to Lucile Grosjean from ACF in Haiti. “There is garbage everywhere,” Grosjean said.

The local government did not allow ACF or any organization to dig trenches in the Haitian capital’s central plaza, the Champs de Mars, said Grosjean. These trenches were to be used to dispose of the accumulating waste and human feces of between 20,000 and 25,000 people which have congregated in the area.

As a result, ACF has started to build above-ground latrines and began digging trenches to install the latrines in the Croix Deprez area, according to Grosjean.

At the same time, International Migration Organization (IOM) is distributing tents, hygiene kits, blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheeting, water bladders and water purifying kits, donated by the US, Japanese and Turkish governments. These efforts are expected to benefit some 26,000 people, IOM reported on its website.

Meanwhile, international aid organization Care is distributing hygiene kits and training survivors to purify contaminated water.

Care representatives are showing people how to use the purifying packets, since the objective is for Haitians to start carrying out the process by themselves.

“We are trying to identify people in neighborhoods or communities and train them so they can then go on to train more people,” the official added.

Care will be distributing PUR packets in the coming weeks together with large buckets where water can be purified. The organization will also provide other items such as soap and sanitary napkins.

During the emergency phase of the earthquake, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ensured a round-the-clock supply of water by trucks to Cité Soleil, the poorest area of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Removing the rubble

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working to remove rubble and garbage, in an effort to improve general sanitation conditions.

UNDP is currently employing more than 1,000 Haitians to restart economic activity. After the emergency, the organization hired 700 inhabitants to remove rubble and rehabilitate essential social infrastructure, such as street repairs and electricity.

Prior to the earthquake UNDP had 400 employees carrying out an ecological project in Carrefour, a neighborhood located south of Port-au-Prince. Following the earthquake, the workers and trucks from this project started to remove the rubble and clean streets so other trucks carrying aid could go through, the official said.

In spite of the urgency to reorganize capital Port-au-Prince, resources continue to be limited. UNDP estimates that a US$41.3mn donation is needed for early recovery initiatives in Haiti. This is part of a nearly US$600mn flash appeal launched by UNDP on January 15. The organization estimates some US$58.8mn needs to be invested in water, sanitation and hygiene programs.


Using free transport provided by the government, more than 235,000 people have left Port-au-Prince and moved to rural neighborhoods where the effects of the earthquake were not so severe. Some 62,000 have relocated to Artibonite, for example. However, 800,000 people are still living in temporary camps in the capital, OCHA reported.

To avoid the spread of diseases, the government is planning to relocate another 400,000 from Port-au-Prince to new settlements which are being set up. The relocation program will be carried out in the coming weeks.

Next Steps

Haiti declared the search and rescue phase over on 23 January 2010 so international rescue teams are concentrating more on humanitarian aid for those who need it, instead of searching the rubble for survivors.

Multilateral entities such as the World Bank and IDB are already taking steps to waive debts. UK-based charity Oxfam has urged donor countries to have Haiti’s foreign debts cancelled. It called for about US$900mn owed to the UN, the World Bank and countries including the US, France, Canada and Brazil to be written off.

Go the Reliefweb site for latest Haiti earthquake water and sanitation updates.

Source: Indiana Corrales, BNamericas.com [subscription site], 25 Jan 2010 ; OCHA, 31 Jan 2010 ; DFID, 02 Feb 2010 ; ICRC, 29 Jan 2010


Hygiene Promotion: A view from Uganda

Hygiene Promotion: A view from Uganda, Source: Action Against Hunger-USA

Date: 02 Mar 2009, ACF-Uganda, courtesy E. Rheinstein.

An up close look at Action Against Hunger’s hygiene promotion programs

Mrs. Oyella Santa, a mother of a household with 10 members, lives in Owak village in Amuru District, Northern Uganda. Ever since Action Against Hunger (ACF) launched environmental sanitation programs in her area, Mrs. Oyella has worked to improve her home by attending the Hygiene Promotion Sessions and setting up environmental sanitation facilities.

Self-Sufficient Sanitation Facilities

ACF began its hygiene promotion programs by distributing digging kits to help the people of Owak village build latrines, refuse pits, dish drying racks, and bathing shelters. Apart from the digging kits, the only items ACF distributed were a “SanPlat” latrine slab—the concrete cap for a new dugout latrine—and a “tippy tap” hand washing facility to improve sanitation. Beyond these distributed items, all of the construction materials, labor, and other inputs are provided by the participating households. Mrs. Oyella eagerly attended each hygiene session and was committed to developing a “complete package” of environmental sanitation facilities for her home.

With ACF’s assistance, the Oyella family was able to dig and build a latrine and install a “tippy tap” hand washing facility. The “tippy tap” is a simple design involving a mounted plastic water jug that acts as a faucet when someone “tips” it by stepping on a wooden pedal (no hands needed). The facility is installed next to latrines to promote collective hygiene by eliminating the need to handle the plastic water jug after using the latrine. The impact is potentially huge: hand washing with soap helps curb half of diarrhea-related diseases.

Hygiene Promotion: Other Simple Fixes

In the construction of a bathing shelters, the use of gravel allows communities to better control waste water, which might otherwise attract pigs or other disease-carrying animals drawn to the muddy ground. Gravel also helps minimize odors and the presence of flies and malaria-carrying mosquitos associated with standing water.

Traditionally, Mrs. Oyella dried dishes by the fire place in the house. This changed after the ACF hygiene promotion sessions that she attended. She constructed a dish drying rack in her compound so that all the water drips out and the sunlight kills the germs. Drier dishes do not attract as many flies, ensuring greater cleanliness.

Mrs Oyella learned at an ACF Hygiene Promotion session that the proper way to obtain water from a water storage container is the two cup system: using a clean cup to dip into the water and then pour into the cup from which someone will drink. The use of a two cup system is a method that helps reduce the risk of contaminating the stored water by using the same cup for scooping and drinking.

With the use of a refuse pit, Mrs Oyella learned that disposing of solid wastes (mostly organic bits of plant material) away from her home keeps away flies and disease carrying rats. Her family now dumps their garbage in a remote pit, which is is covered with earth once it’s full. By attending Action Against Hunger’s hygiene promotion sessions, Mrs. Oyella quickly learned that even small precautions such as these can have a great impact on the health and well-being of her family.

The Real Benefits of Hygiene Promotion: Healthier Communities

Because the region’s health center is several kilometers away, Mrs. Oyella sees the real costs involved in getting sick: “it is cheaper to prevent than to pay for a cure for preventable diseases.” As she implements the range of sanitation services promoted by ACF, Mrs. Oyella helps ensure the health of her family and her community. Better hygiene means fewer illnesses, less time spent traveling to the remote health center—and more time spent growing food in her garden.

Source – ReliefWeb