“Water cooperation is not an option — it is an imperative for a better future for all.” – Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO
Today is World Water Day! Although this is celebrated annually, it has extra significance this year because the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2013 “International Year of Water Cooperation.”
Water is a shared resource, and therefore requires everyone to join in and help make important decisions. According to World Bank estimates, only 51% of the rural population in Haiti has access to an improved water source. Providing access to water for those who still lack access to this basic necessity is a huge task and will likely only be accomplished through intentional cooperation.
So, on this day I wanted to share with you about a place called Michineau and how World Concern collaborated with local stakeholders to provide clean water.
Michineau is a Section in southeast Haiti. In Haiti a Section is a collection of small communities. This region of Haiti is known for its’ mountains. Michineau is surrounded by these formidable mountains, which provides a stunning backdrop. However amidst the natural beauty people remain vulnerable to heavy storms which can wreak havoc and harm existing water supplies.
In 2010 Hurricane Tomas swept through Haiti and damaged the water system in Michineau. With the system destroyed, people throughout Michineau were forced to journey up the mountain each day to the source to collect water and then carry it back home.
“It would take around 2 hours to get water,” explained Carel, a local community leader.
If more than one trip was required for a household’s needs then even more time was spent on this laborious task.
We had the opportunity to walk a couple kilometers up the path leading to the water source and it is no easy stroll. It is steep and rocky. I’m not in terrible condition, but even I was pleased to reach the source so I could catch my breath! Carrying water long distances on this path would be tiring and time consuming.
Thankfully the system is operating again! World Concern, in partnership with the community, repaired and strengthened the water system in Michineau. Now there are seven functioning water points through the Section. Each water point is equipped with sinks for washing and water collection, and showers for bathing (as seen in the three-photo spread above and the photo below).
Crucial to the success of this project was cooperation between everyone involved including: local community leaders like Carel, the Department of Civil Protection, grassroots groups, and local church leaders.
Not only is water flowing again in Michineau but the local Civil Protection Committee has been trained and is now better equipped to respond to future disasters in their community. It is this thorough and collaborative approach to development that makes our efforts last.
Bertrand Russell, the 20th century philosopher and Nobel Prize winner, said “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” I think he was on to something. Cooperation is especially relevant and necessary when transforming communities and we have seen this first hand in Michineau.