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At a glance: Haiti

UNICEF and partners increase access to safe water in Haitian quake zone

© UNICEF Haiti/2010
Workers Westerne Dumond and Dieu Maitre Joseph stand in front of a Frechè Lokal water tanker in Port-au-Prince. A partnership between the water company and UNICEF is delivering safe water to earthquake-affected Haitians.

By Chris Tidey

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 3 February 2010 – Safe water is flowing in earthquake-affected areas of Haiti. Overall, UNICEF and its partners are now distributing more than 2.6 million litres of drinking water daily to over half a million people here in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and in the cities of Leogane and Jacmel.

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Leopold Sabbat runs Frechè Lokal, a water-purification and distribution company that is one of UNICEF’s private-sector partners in Port-au-Prince. In the days immediately following the 12 January earthquake, Mr. Sabbat and his company used their fleet of tanker trucks to provide safe water to thousands of survivors.

Since then, UNICEF and Frechè Lokal have joined forces to increase the amount of water treated at the company’s plant and distributed to children and families. Every day, UNICEF and Frechè Lokal send out at least 150 trucks, each filled with 5,000 litres of water, to 200 distribution points around the city – and the partners are working to increase capacity.

© UNICEF video
UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Silvia Gaya at the Frechè Lokal plant in Port-au-Prince.

Protecting children against disease
“Not only does this type of partnership ensure that clean water gets to those who need it most, but it also enhances local capacity and creates jobs,” says UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Silvia Gaya. “As we continue to expand access to clean drinking water, children are less vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoea.”

In Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, UNICEF is coordinating the water-and-sanitation efforts of all partners – including non-governmental organizations, the government and companies such as Frechè Lokal.

Access to water and sanitation is especially important for ensuring the health of displaced families living in the hundreds of makeshift settlements that have sprung up here.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0104/LeMoyne
Children bathe and fill containers with water at a burst main in Port-au-Prince's impoverished Bel Air neighbourhood.

Work to be done
Meanwhile, at a temporary settlement in the town of Carrefour – near the site of the quake’s epicentre – UNICEF and partners are providing water and sanitation for thousands of people left homeless by the disaster.

Yet there is much more work to be done. Not far from Carrefour, at Gaston Magon village, is an encampment where nearly 4,000 people lack a dependable source of drinking water. Many children and families here are collecting water for drinking and cooking from a small stream that is filled with sediment and waste, exposing them to water-borne illnesses.

With each new day, however, UNICEF and its water-and-sanitation partners are reaching thousands more earthquake survivors – with the goal of providing safe water to all those who remain vulnerable in Haiti.




27 January 2010: UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Silvia Gaya discusses water distribution to earthquake-affected children and families in Haiti.
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