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Bringing water to Haiti

Concern Worldwide is working with some of the poorest communities in Haiti to build and rehabilitate wells and water systems. Concern's Aoife Black was there recently.

Children recieve safe drinking water in Haiti. Photo: Jennifer Nolan

Drinking water

Recently, I travelled with some of our dedicated staff to see for myself the amazing work Concern is doing on the Island of La Gonâve, off mainland Haiti. There, safe drinking water is in critically short supply.

La Gonâve

La Gonâve is just a bit smaller than Dublin. Most of the people living on the island get their water from wells dug painstakingly into the deep rock or from private, or community, rain-water harvesting cisterns. Wells are often located several hours away from people’s homes and involve a long trek on foot or by donkey to fetch water. Rainfall is low so the rainwater cisterns only hold enough water for a few months of the year.  

This well in Bodin village in Haiti was dug by Concern staff to provide safe drinking water to communities. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Disrepair

To add to the challenges, many of these cisterns have been destroyed by the violent hurricanes that batter the island almost annually; others have fallen into disrepair because there is no proper system for maintaining them. We’re one of just two international aid agencies working on the island.

New pipeline

As we approach Les Etroits village, some distance inland, I can’t help but marvel at the amazing feat of engineering that has been achieved by the team. Along two kilometres of a deep ravine, a new pipeline has been laid to bring water from one of the island’s few natural springs to within reach of the 5,000 people living in the area.

How it works

The pipeline itself is held in place by reinforced concrete pillars to prevent it being damaged by falling boulders or strong winds brought by future hurricanes. The pipeline brings the water to a number of “kiosks” from which villagers can collect water for a set price of one Haitian gourde (2.5 US cents).  Any profits from the sale of the water are ploughed back into maintaining the system.

Combining innovative engineering and local ownership, we hope that this system will survive the many challenges that face the people La Gonâve.