After such a tremendous response from the international community, Haiti is now transitioning into a new period of recovery. The first form of action that needed to be taken was to save people who were trapped in the debris and salvage those who were hurt. What the people of Haiti now need is a new infrastructure, particularly a stable water system that will protect them against water-borne diseases and reduce infant mortality. Rene Preval announced that nearly 1 million civilians are currently wandering the streets in search of shelter and clean water. While American efforts have been generous, International Action is now working to increase aid.
Bill Clinton, who made a trip to Haiti the first week of February, reported that it is extremely imperative to increase public health before the rainy season commences. Unfortunately, a strong rainy season can equate to a rapid spread of diseases, which is why International Action finds it so imperative to begin disbursing clean water to as many people in a timely manner. Before the earthquake, Haiti held the highest rate of infant mortality due to water-borne diseases. Now that Haitians are left in the streets without shelter, they are forming numerous shantytowns that public health experts are certain will spread disease even more, unless action is taken. Already, the Associated Press has reported “an ominous foretaste of the rainy season.” As a rush of rain fell onto the streets of Haiti today, images of amputees struggling over the muddy pathways can be seen. Public experts are also concerned about the rise of malaria. Should the rainy season be as strong as predicted, it would not be uncommon for mosquitos to breed at a higher rate in and around puddles of dirty water.
Unfortunately, without outside help, Haiti will not be able to recover. The water treatment facilities in Haiti ran out of water days after the disaster and will not be able to recover until electricity is restored. That is why the use of chlorinators and chlorine tablets is so practical at this time. The chlorinators are one of the simplest and easiest forms for sanitizing water. International Action continues to work in City Soleil, one of the poorest areas, and surrounding neighborhoods to mitigate any further problems. We are also developing a plan for rebuilding and repairing tanks and chlorinators destroyed by the quake, in addition to adding water storage in neighborhoods currently without water tanks. This effort will reach 2 million residents in a period of five years. In the long-term, Haiti needs to be provided a reliable, efficient water system they can manage themselves, which is exactly what International Action hopes to create.