Study by Haiti Grassroots Watch on sanitation and water supply in earthquake zone

Septic systems makeshift, Issa Camp, Tabarre.jpg

Makeshift septic systems threaten water supply

Reconstruction money flushed away?

A compilation of studies on the state of sanitation services and protection of groundwater aquifers in the earthquake zone
Published on Haiti Grassroots Watch, March 8, 2012

Millions spent by the international community to empty over 11,000 "port-a-potties" has now dried up, leaving a half-million internally displaced people with no place to "go," literally. Online, it looks like two U.S.-based charities are making good on their promise to build 10,000 homes, and the money flows in… but not to build 10,000 houses - journalists could only find a few dozen. Earthquake refugees dump the ecological free toilets supplied by an Irish aid agency and instead dig to install familiar flush toilets

which are now polluting one of the capital's main water supplies.

These are just a few of the investigative reports produced this month by young Haitian journalists, with support from the new Fund For Investigative Journalism in Haiti.

Chosen by a jury made up of media directors from Groupe Medialternatif, the National Association of Haitian Media (ANMH) and the Association of Independent Haitian Media (AMIH), a dozen young men and women scoured the streets and hillsides of Haiti's earthquake zone for two months, discovering a lack of coordination, buck-passing, waste and corruption. Haiti Grassroots Watch is proud to have sponsored four of the investigations. Here are two, one from Haiti Grassroots Watch and one from Le Nouvelliste.

Temporary Toilets Threaten Permanent Damage

By Lafontaine Orvild, Haiti Grassroots Watch

Tabarre, HAITI, March 8 - Complete with gallery and garden, the 534 wood and plasterboard houses are arranged in neat rows on a gravel plot of former sugarcane land northwest of the capital. At first glance, all seems normal in this new community, or as normal as anything has been in a country that suffered a 7.0 earthquake twenty-six months ago.

In most camps, refugees complain because they are still living in tents. Not here. At the Tabarre Issa camp - built by the Irish humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide for a total cost of over US$3 million - the complaints center not on the new US$5,000 "transitional shelters" or "T-Shelters" that serve as homes to about 2,500 people. Instead, they target the new-fangled "ecological toilets" inside their homes: one in each of the 534 homes meant to last three years.

Read the full story here:

Appendix: UDTs in Haiti

"UDT" (urinary diversion toilet) is a new term in Haiti. It is an ecological toilet designed to separate urine from feces in order to conserve water and stimulate compost production. It is used in Africa, Europe and Asia. UDTs are more expensive to build than pit toilets.

Read the full story here:

Money for Cleaning Toilets Down the Drain?

By Phares Jerome and Valery Daudier
Published in French in the Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste, March 8, 2012. Here is the translation:

The draw-down of hundreds of non-governmental organizations which have been in Haiti since the disastrous 2010 earthquake was inevitable. But with their departure, so, too goes their purse and the millions earmarked for cleaning latrines. What does that mean for the half a million displaced still living in camps?

Some 11,000 mobile toilets were installed by a rainbow of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) following Haiti's 2010 earthquake. Supplied largely by the Clinton Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and UNICEF, and then redistributed by the NGO community to hundreds of camps, these latrines improved the living conditions and staved off pending health problems for some of the 1.5 million who were displaced. Now, donor dollars are drying up even as toilets overflow. It's one thing for the funders to cinch their belt; it's another for those in the camps.

Full story:

Grace Village, a camp without grace

Watch a seven minute video on the management of a displaced persons camp by Grace International:

Index of previous studies by Haiti Grassroots Watch: