See the Blue Drops of Hope on this Clean Water Map of Haiti
January 15, 2009
Every blue drop on this Google map represents a Haiti community where a simple, low-cost, low-tech chlorine tablet feeding system has brought clean water to some of the world’s poorest and most dangerous communities.
Thanks to International Action a small non-profit organization in Washington, DC, these simple systems have been installed with the help of local teams that have also been trained to use and maintain the chlorinators.
Since May 2006, International Action has been working with a Haitian group, Dlo Pwòp (Creole for "Clean Water"), to install 100 water chlorinators in 23 of the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. An estimated 400,000 residents now have access to clean water for the first time.
The chlorinators are designed and manufactured by Norwalk Wastewater Equipment Company (Norweco), a manufacturer of water and wastewater treatment products, systems and chemicals located in Norwalk, Ohio. The company worked 15 years to adapt its equipment for use in small drinking water systems after learning of the extreme need of people in poor countries. Norweco's chlorinator is now used in about 20 countries.
The Norweco tablet chlorinators require no electricity and operate on the gravity flow of water from city or village water sources. International Action reports the chlorinators are simple to install, easy to operate and trouble-free to maintain. They have found them to be especially effective in developing countries such as Haiti where there is no community plumbing, and so people use buckets to retrieve water from one main source each day.
The system uses specially designed dry chlorine tablets from Arch Chemicals Inc. of Norwalk, Connecticut.. The chlorine tablets are made of calcium hypochlorite, which is in common use for disinfecting drinking water around the world.
For its Haiti project, the chlorine costs International Action less than $50 a month to protect the water for 50,000 residents. The tablet chlorinators provide a steady, pre-set level of chlorination which persists in the water for many days. This provides dependable protection against the disease-causing bacteria common in the buckets, home storage tanks, and local piping in developing countries.
According to International Action, water borne illnesses from unclean drinking water kill more than 2.2 million people in the world every year. They also cite high social costs, such as work lost, missed school and school dropouts. In selecting Haiti for their demonstration project, the organization chose one of the neediest places:
- Contaminated water is the leading cause in Haiti of infant mortality and illness in children. Germs causing hepatitis, cholera, and chronic diarrhea are carried in water used for cooking and drinking.
- Nearly every water source in Haiti has become contaminated with human waste because of the absence of a sewage sanitation system.
- Haiti now has the highest infant mortality rate in the western hemisphere. The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that more than half of all deaths in Haiti were due to water-borne gastro-intestinal diseases.
- Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with an unemployment rate above 70%. Approximately 75% of all Haitians live in unimaginable poverty.
But it’s not just the severity of Haiti’s poverty or its nearly total lack of water and sewage infrastructure that makes Haiti such a remarkable test case for the organization. Haiti is a dangerous place, even for those who are trying to help the people. In a brief description of its water chlorinator in Bertin, Haiti, an aid worker wrote:
“The communities where we are installing the chlorinators are places that most NGOs don’t dare to venture into because of the insecurity. So when they see us coming to their communities, even though there are big security problems, they know how we are committed at doing our job and this in itself provides a huge amount of credibility to Internaitonal Action.”
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