When living in the States, I took clean water for granted. I assumed I would go to the sink, turn on the faucet, and water would miraculously appear and I could drink it too!
Living in Haiti, we don’t have that privilege. Most of our workers do not live in homes with running water. The water they are able to get is not always drinkable.
According to a 2004 study by the Pan American Health organization, less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water. Twenty percent of the 38,000 deaths per year of children under the age of five are a result of diarrhea from contaminated drinking water (United Nations Development Program 2004).
Nearly every water source in Haiti – rivers, streams, springs and wells – is contaminated by human waste. There are no public sewage treatment or disposal systems anywhere in the country – even in the large cities. The lack of clean drinking water contributes to the highest infant and child mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, the leading killer of children is waterborne disease – hepatitis, typhoid and diarrhea – all carried in water used for drinking, cooking, washing.
Children who repeatedly suffer from water borne disease miss school, become malnourished, and are more vulnerable to other leading causes of sickness and death in Haiti such as malaria, measles, etc. Repeated bouts of illness and malnourishment at a young age can impair cognitive development.
A few months ago, a team brought us portable water filters with a two bucket filtration system. This system is for use in homes and was perfect for our staff to put in their own homes!
After brief classes on how to use the systems and keep them clean, the staff left here with their buckets and an economical way to have clean drinking water in their homes!