Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rainwater Harvesting in Haiti

Even before the earthquake in Haiti last month, water and sanitation conditions were extremely poor. According to the World Health Organization, only 11% of of Haiti's population had drinking water piped into their dwellings in 2006. 42% of the population had unimproved drinking water sources, which includes unprotected wells or springs, surface water, or tanker trucks.

Needless to say, the earthquake destroyed much of infrastructure used to transport clean water. Aid organizations have been working tirelessly in distributing water to Haiti's people. UNICEF itself is distributing nearly 700,000 gallons of water every day.

During the rebuilding process, rainwater harvesting should be considered as a long term water source. Compared to complex underground infrastructure, it is relatively inexpensive and would be a job that locals could participate in. It could be installed quickly to lessen the burden on aid organizations. And education is key: 40% of Haiti's population are below the age of 14. Teaching them the basics of sanitation and water treatment would prevent many of the water-born diseases that kill countless people every year.