Community involvement at the heart of access to drinking water

A local resident drawing water

In remote areas of the country, access to safe drinking water can be a major challenge, considering the relief configuration and the availability of natural water sources. UNICEF, with funding from USAID, is implementing source capture and drinking water projects. Often community involvement is essential for the success of these projects. The locality of La Vallette, in the South-East department is a striking example.

Jacmel, 31st May 2018- As part of the fight against drought that hit several departments of the country including the Southeast, UNICEF in collaboration with USAID undertook work of rehabilitation of water sources in several localities. The La Valette source in the Montagne section La Voûte, 6th section of the town of Jacmel, is one of the beneficiaries.

Alma Oplan, the keen eye, the straight and decided step is the coordinator of Casec Section La Montagne. He was one of the great artisans, at the community level of the rehabilitation of the source of La Montagne. “As a development agent, our role is to work for the benefit of our communal section for the well-being of the community,” he says.

Problems that were recurrent

The rugged terrain has favored soil erosion in the area; the increase in the population has led to overexploitation of the system; natural disasters such as hurricanes (the earthquake, cyclones Emilie and Katrina and Hurricane Matthew …) have accelerated the degradation of structures. Regarding the catchment: there were cracks on the superstructure, the hatch was damaged, the nearby environment degraded. So, the rest of the network could not be powered.

The lack of ownership of the source by the community has led to a lack of monitoring of the works. People did not take care of the old catchment and threw filth, there was no cleanliness. “The situation was very difficult because people were drawing water, close to where the animals were drinking,” he says.

The community was involved

A water pump in a locality of South-East

Community members saw the need to repair the water source, so they made the request to the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DINEPA). USAID provided funding to UNICEF for the project. Solidarités International was chosen as the project manager.

When he talks about the realization of this project, a broad smile illuminates the face of Oplan. “People have taken ownership of the project from the beginning. They participated by giving and bringing construction materials to the site; sand, rocks, blocks, among others “, he says.

Alma Oplan was one of the driving forces behind the mobilization. He sensitized the inhabitants on the importance of the rehabilitation of the spring. He contributed to the food of the workers. He said he was satisfied with the result, although he thinks there may be some improvement.

The bulk of the work consisted of: the rehabilitation, the capture through the clogging of the leak and the cleaning of the environment close to the system; the repair of the internal and external water tightness of the tank; partial rehabilitation of masonry and plumbing; clogging and protection of pipelines at the catchment level; the construction of a retaining wall for the protection of the structure.

Per Jacques Touchard Adia, WASH specialist at UNICEF, the rehabilitation of the source will change the life of the population. Because the impact in their life is real and palpable. “It’s a big difference for the people of La Montagne, because before it was difficult to find drinking water. The population had water in quantity but which was not drinkable. The catchment and reservoir were contaminated with coliforms. UNICEF, in support of the Haitian government, has allowed these remote communities to access water. It will save the lives of children. We thank USAID for its important support to the realization of this project’’, he concludes.

This post is also available in: French