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Haiti: A Pathfinder to Post-Earthquake Responses for Environmental and Natural Resources

Haiti's Water

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Compiled by: 2nd year University of South Carolina Law Student William R. Timmons IV.

Issue:

How to provide urban and rural populations of Haiti with improved water sources and quality. The problem of access to safe drinking water pre-existed the January 12, 2010 earthquake but has been severely exacerbated by that event.

Background:

Over five million Haitians do not have access to clean water, and that number had spiked since the earthquake. An improved water source is one that is likely to provide safe water. Potential sources of clean water for Haitians are: household connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater collection.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti's citizens often obtained their water from unprotected dug wells, unprotected springs, vendor provided water, bottled water, or tankers. This reality has often forced Haitians to choose between an unmanageable financial burden by purchasing clean water from often overpriced vendors or putting the heath of themselves and their families at risk. Diseases such as hepatitis, cholera, malaria, typhoid, intestinal infections and diarrhea can be caused by contaminated water, and these diseases are more manifest after the earthquake despite relief efforts by many on the ground.

Possible Ways Forward:

In order to best manage Haiti's now increased lack of access to safe drinking water different long-term solutions must be implemented in different areas.

  1. 1.Rural: Bio-sand water filters represent a promising development in delivering improved water to Haitians at the lowest possible cost. Before the earthquake, various charitable organizations implemented both bio-sand water filters and protected dug wells. Many of these organizations and their efforts can be researched at the links below.
  2. 2.Urban: Two pronged approach in urban areas requires both short and long term solutions. Short term, bio-sand water filters provide cost effective solution to transition away from tanker and bottled water currently being used by earthquake survivors. Long term, the Minister of Public Works, Transportation, and Communications (MPTC) should consider overhauling and developing modern structures and facilities that will be able to provide improved water sources to urban city dwellers, and implement a management regime to support such efforts. The main public institutions in the Haitian water sector are two state-owned enterprises, each created by its own law: CAMEP (Centrale Autonome Métropolitaine d'Eau Potable), responsible for the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, and SNEP (Service National d'Eau Potable), responsible for secondary cities and, in theory, for rural areas. These institutions should receive training and funding to deliver improved water to the urban residents of Haiti as the rebuilding effort begins in earnest.

For Further Information:


ABOUT THIS PATHFINDER

This project was researched primarily by the Spring 2010 Environmental Law Seminar students at the University of South Carolina School of Law: Victor A. Dorobantu, Erin Kee, Daniel Y. Lee, Katherine M. Malloy, W. Guy Quinn, William R. Timmons IV, Amanda B. Turner. They were supervised by Professor Kim Diana Connolly, and assisted by librarians Terrye Conroy, Rebekah Maxwell and Stephanie Marshall. Coordinating partners were certain staff of the Environmental Law Institute, Konpay, the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Technical assistance with web design was provided by USC School of Law webmaster Tobias Brasier. All questions or comments regarding the pathfinder should be directed to Professor Connolly. Broken links should be reported to lawweb@law.sc.edu. This website is NOT intended as legal advice, and particularized analysis by professionals should be sought wherever appropriate. It is current as of March 26, 2010.