Palo Grande Community, Haiti
Water access was fraught with trouble for the Palo Grande community. After the gaskets on the pump for the community borehole broke, residents had to get the water they needed from a local river. The river was some distance from from their homes, so the women and children tasked with water collection spent hours of each day walking to the river and back, all while carrying heavy containers of water.
To make matters worse, the river water was unsafe for drinking and cooking. The water was contaminated by animals and dangerous bacteria. These contaminants left the community members suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, parasites, and a myriad of other water-related illnesses. When residents were sick, they couldn’t work, care for their homes and families, or, in the case of the community’s children, attend school. For many families, simply paying for the treatment of a waterborne disease was a financial sacrifice.
The residents began looking for help in ending their water crisis.
When leaders in the community heard about our work in the area, they knew they had found the answer to their water crisis. Our team responded to the community’s need by visiting Palo Grande and determining that a rehabilitation of the existing well was possible.
Our staff returned to the community to get the existing borehole up and running. They flushed the borehole to remove any loose sedimentary rock, cased it with PVC, formed a sanitary gravel pack, and treated the water. Once they tested the water to ensure it was safe to consume, they mounted a new hand pump and handle.
The staff also helped the Palo Grande community establish sustainability practices to help ensure a future of safe water access, guiding them in the selection of a water committee to oversee the care and maintenance of the well.
In order to help the Palo Grande residents understand how to use their new safe water as a means of improving their health, our staff held a hygiene and sanitation promotion activity. These interactive sessions equipped the participants to take an active role in their personal health and that of the community at large.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Lorenzo Osabas Hernández is a 47-year-old farmer who lives in Palo Grande. He and his neighbors were frustrated when they could no longer access the water in their borehole. Lorenzo explained that while “the water has been fine; the well had maintenance problems and the gaskets were worn.”
Lorenzo knows that having safe water again will change everything for his community: “Before, the community had to go to the river for even a drink of water, but having a well benefits everyone.”
He and his neighbors know that safe water changes everything. They can now envision a future that isn’t marred by thirst or need. They take pride in their ability to implement community-driven solutions to prevent their well from falling into disrepair.