The United Nations’ Office for the Special Envoy to Haiti compiled the following statistics on the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in Haiti.
- Percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation: 42 percent (urban), 25 percent (rural)3
- Percentage of households with water supply: 52 percent (urban), 26 percent (rural)4
- No city in Haiti has a functioning sewage system.
- Under five mortality as a result of waterborne illness: 16 percent5
- The effect of diarrhea on child mortality is exacerbated by limited access to improved drinking water sources, hygiene and sanitation facilities.
These statistics were current in 2008, BEFORE the earthquake and cholera outbreak, which exacerbated the dire situation. Haiti has therefore been a key recipient of Global Soap Project’s reprocessed soap.
One partnership we had in 2012 was with Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which has been serving Haiti for the last 75 years. Salesian Missions was instrumental in emergency response and relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. They received more than 90,000 bars that were distributed in schools. Most importantly, the soap was accompanied by comprehensive handwashing and hygiene education. Going forward, as the local soapmaking recovers, soap will be procured locally, ensuring the positive health impact is sustained.
In 2013 we partnered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on a nutrition and hygiene project. The area of Fond des Blancs, in the South Department of Haiti, is severely affected by both under-nutrition and diarrheal diseases. Reducing the burden of malnutrition through community based Positive Deviance (PD) nutritional counseling programs has shown a promising impact in Haiti and worldwide. Diarrheal illness perpetuates the cycle of malnutrition, but may be improved with water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene.
In this combined program, the CDC has distributed soap and hygiene education to the mothers of undernourished children in order to promote better hand hygiene at home and prevent diarrheal illness. So far, 135 households and 166 children have been enrolled. With the help of the CDC monitoring and evaluation team, we’ll be tracking how this dual intervention achieves and sustains long-term health improvements.