Eye opening report on Haitian sanitation and what the future holds

Fri, 06Aug2010

Haiti From sustaining lives to sustainable solutions: the challenge of sanitation

the challenge of sanitation

The  International Federation International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) realease  a 24 page report  titled Haiti: From sustaining lives to sustainable solutions –the challenge of sanitation in July 2010 Special report, six months on • July 2010

Contents are follows

  • Top line messages
  • Before the earthquake Tentative steps in the face of chronic under-development
    • It’s a dirty job,but somebody has to do it Case Study
  • Six months on: notable achievements, but substitution is not the answer
    • Hygiene promotion at Camp La Piste Case Study
    • Sanitation technicians –doing the work that nobody else wants to do Case Study
  • The challenges of the next 6–12 months Taking the frst steps towards sustainable sanitation solutions
    • Making it fun to learn about hygiene Case Study
    • Cleaning up the camps Case Study
  • The next ten years Innovation is the key
  • Haiti earthquake operation in figures

The  Top line message is as follows

  • Sanitation saves lives. Without it, there is a risk of a secondary disaster, in which the people who have survived the earthquake could succumb to preventable disease.
  • The IFRC is calling on the international community to recognize sanitation as one of the absolute priorities in Haiti’s reconstruction, and to ensure that sufficient resources are devoted to it.
  • The current situation is not sustainable. The IFRC and other agencies providing water and sanitation services on behalf of the Haitian authorities are currently stretched beyond their capacity and mandate.
  • Haitian authorities must receive funding and support to build their capacities to provide the improved sanitation services the Haitian population needs and deserves.
  • Access to appropriate sanitation is also a dignity and protection issue, particularly for women and children. Community participation is essential to identify ways to ensure that people feel safe when using sanitation facilities – toilets and showers – both at night and in the day.
  • Innovative solutions for future sanitation provision are needed. For example research is needed into potential solutions such as small bore sewerage, large-scale composting of waste, or
    establishing biogas production.

They go on to say in  (footnotes are remove here but are  in original pdf)

“…Six months on, a large proportion of sanitation services (and two-thirds of the water trucking) continue to be provided by international partners. This is notsustainable. The IFRC calls upon the international community to recognize sanitation as one of the absolute priorities in Haiti’s reconstruction and ensure that sufficient resources are devoted to it….”

“…Before the earthquake, safe water access was amongst the lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean, nwhilst access to sanitation was amongst the lowest
in the world… ”

“…Whilst the IFRC works mainly in larger camps and neighbourhoods, other agencies and NGOs are working in small camps that are not accessible to
larger de-sludging machines. They have also taken this “improve on what exists” approach, consulting with camp dwellers to learn and build upon their own practices. They are currently piloting a number of different options. These include field-testing the distribution and safe collection of biodegradable bags in locations where there appears to be no other viable solution (for example, no space for more conventional toilets), installing toilets that use little or no water, and investigating options to introduce manual de-sludging pumps that would improve upon the bayacou system of toilet clearance used prior to the earthquake…..”

“There are huge challenges in meeting the long-term sanitation needs for Haiti, but at the same time great opportunities exist to make substantial improvements
to the sanitary environment of Port-au-Prince and beyond. The key is to support the Haitian authorities in investigating and putting in place pioneering sanitation solutions. The crucial starting point is to ensure that equal importance, support and funding is channeled to sanitation as well as the provision of water in tackling the long-term rebuilding of Haiti…”

“…Investment in formative research is needed now  in areas such as the barriers and motivational factors to achieving improved sanitation within Haitian society,
the ability and willingness to pay for it, and whether there is an openness to adopt innovations such as the agricultural use of human-derived fertiliser or the conversion of excreta into energy through biogas production. All these issues must be properly researched, together with a better understanding in how to carry out urban mass sanitation, given that most experience to date stems from rural and peri-urban situations.

Haiti is still in the first phase of recovering from the devastating effects of the 12 January earthquake, but now is the time to look forward – to the next six months and also to the next 10 or 20 years. The decisions made now will have the most profound influence in helping the country deliver a prosperous future for its citizens. Making sure that sanitation is given equal priority and funding
to the provision of water – and seizing opportunities to put in place innovative long-term approaches to solid and human waste management in Haiti requires immediate action, research and planning.”


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