A water well in Haiti

Providing Access to Clean Water in Southern Haiti

Just off Highway 2, on the southern coast of Petit-Goâve, the sun beats down hard on the community of Gaston. In the summer months, hydration is necessary, as the temperature regularly reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Until recently, the people of Gaston and the surrounding communities had only two sources of potable water. One was a small pond in Gaston, and the other was across Highway 2, a dangerous trek for people of all ages.

Unfortunately, at the pond in Gaston, the water pump had broken. And when the rain and floods came, the lake would become polluted with trash and sewage that make people susceptible to diseases such as typhoid, malaria and diarrhea. This has become a huge problem, not only for the people living in Gaston but also for the people from the surrounding communities who come to the area to get clean water. For this reason, everyone, young and old, were forced to walk take the dangerous route across Highway 2 for the water necessary to drink, and to wash themselves, their clothes and their cooking utensils.

"It was very hard on the people living here," said Charles Montes, a youth-leader in the area said. "People were getting sick and children were dirty. It was a bad situation." Charles is the General-Secretary of the Association pour le Development of Paysans de Petit-Goâve (ADPPG), an association that works with youth to keep them active and out of trouble.

Charles and other community leaders met with CHF International, to see if they could work with the USAID-funded Konbit Ak Tèt Ansanm (KATA) program in this part of Petit-Goâve. KATA is working in five major cities in Haiti to create short- and long-term job creation by rebuilding key infrastructure. What makes KATA different is that the community is involved in the project at every step and not left to watch on the side.

After meeting with KATA representatives, the community decided to rebuild the water pump and build an adjoining canal that would prevent the pond from being flooded with trash and sewage in the future.

"This project has been totally different than other development-type projects that I have seen in Petit-Goâve," said Charles. "KATA has worked with us from the beginning and continues to do so, so that we in the community can maintain this valuable water source for many years to come."

CHF has given us the tools to make this water project last for a long time. KATA has not only rehabilitated the water pump but it has rehabilitated our people as well.

In addition to creating over 100 jobs, the 2,500 people in Gaston and the surrounding communities now have access to potable water, without having to walk miles across Highway 2.

Charles also said that the community has seen a decrease in violence after this project. "Now the same people who were causing conflict are now hard at work, instead of creating trouble for our community," said Charles.