Haiti has been suffering from a Cholera outbreak since the 2010 earthquake. It seems that the new infection came from the UN troops that came to help with the earthquake. For this outbreak, 669,396 cases and 8,217 deaths have been reported. What is more tragic is that cholera is completely preventable, by eliminating contact between human feces and food. Washing hands is one way to prevent cholera, but since there is no clean water supply in most of Haiti and people depend on open streams and rivers for their water, it is more efficient to control the spread of feces. Because of a lack of latrines, most people in Haiti relieve themselves in the fields, and when it rains, the contaminated water runs into creeks and rivers leading to communities downstream.
Our current project is installing latrines in the homes of families in the community of Fon-Jeannette, located high in the mountains in the southeastern area of Haiti. We selected this community because it is well organized and residents actively participate in community activities. Most residents own their properties, which gives them an incentive to participate in the construction of the latrines and maintain them in good order. Most importantly, this particular community is upstream from many other communities, so preventing cholera here will protect those communities downstream.
We have a well-organized team and the full participation of the community. When our donors send fund to the project, 100% goes to pay for:
- Stipend to one of our workers, a woman member of the community, who does all the purchasing, coordination of delivery of supplies, supervision of families and contractor, and taking pictures to document the work.
- Materials and their delivery to the access point where the community picks them up (see pictures with people carrying boards, the community is 2hrs walking uphill, and all the materials are carried by community members, one trip at a time!).
- Fee for a contractor, also member of the community, who builds the cement base along with the community. Each family is responsible for digging their own latrine hole, which takes about 2-3 weeks to do as they must dig through hard soil and rock.
Note that although some of the pictures show volunteers working on the latrines, most of the work is done by the families themselves, and zero funds from donors are used to pay for any volunteer expenses. All volunteers, when they are involved in latrine-building, provide 100% of their funding. Although volunteers’ labor is not a significant factor in speeding up the construction of latrines — after all, most of the families are used to hard field work and are very happy to provide all the necessary labor — volunteers provide an important link between Haiti and the US and Europe, where most of our donors are.