Sanitation in Haiti
Haiti has struggled with access to clean water over the past few decades. While strides have been made to improve the sanitation situation, the earthquake in 2010 augmented the problem. Access to clean water became almost impossible after the earthquake, culminating in the subsequent cholera outbreak. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Haiti.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Haiti

  1. Prior to the 2010 Earthquake, only 69% of Haitians had access to an improved water source and only 17% had access to an improved sanitation facility. After the earthquake, however, these numbers plummeted, leading to the spread of cholera and typhoid. Organizations like Health Equity International have begun to combat this issue by providing water treatment tablets and water safety education.
  2. Only 24% of Haiti’s population has access to a toilet. With limited access to toilets, a nationwide sewage system has been hard to implement and maintain. This deficiency facilitates the spread of water-borne illnesses like cholera.
  3. Haiti’s WASH sector (Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene) is mostly financed by donors such as the World Bank, UNICEF, CDC and Swiss Development Cooperation. While these are major donors, anyone can donate.
  4. In 2012, the CDC helped the National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (DINEPA) train communal water and sanitation technicians (TEPACs) to help improve water infrastructure in rural areas. TEPACs are extremely helpful because they routinely assess water systems, monitor free chlorine in the water, work with humanitarian aid and support the WASH sector.
  5. Before the 2010 earthquake, no waste management facility existed in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. After the earthquake and following cholera outbreak, the Morne a Cabri wastewater treatment was opened. This was extremely beneficial, as waste could be properly managed as opposed to remaining in a fecal sludge.
  6. The World Bank, in conjunction with DINEPA, supported a project to improve water and sanitation in Haiti. This project resulted in the construction of 25 sets of latrines, 25 urinals and 28 hand-washing stations. It also built sanitation works in public schools and a health center.
  7. In 2015, the Ministry of Health, DINEPA and the Ministry of Trade outlined a program to improve and monitor water quality. This agreement (The Promotion of Sanitation, Hygiene, and Life) was signed into law in 2016.
  8. Shortly after the cholera outbreak, the Haitian government implemented the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti 2013-2022. This plan includes a framework for improving water, sanitation, health care, education, transportation and more. By increasing access to potable water and sanitation facilities, the government hopes to limit the spread of water-borne diseases.
  9. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) worked with the Haitian Solid Waste Collection Agency to remove health care waste (needles, bandages, gloves, etc.). As a result, hospitals received more training and information regarding how to manage medical waste.
  10. After U.S. government assistance, 392,000 people in Haiti gained access to improved sanitation and 2.1 million people gained access to improved drinking water.

These facts about Haiti and the country’s lack of clean water highlight the importance of consumable water and sanitary environments. While Haiti’s water accessibility and sanitary facilities are behind other nations in the Western Hemisphere, it is improving its infrastructure and hygiene-educational efforts to improve the lives of Haitian citizens.

– Ehina Srivastava
Photo: Flickr

working to end Lassa fever in NigeriaLassa fever is a growing epidemic for many Nigerians. The World Health Organization reports that 72 Nigerians have died from the disease while 317 others are infected. Lassa fever has also spread to 18 Nigerian states since its outbreak in January. However, many entities are working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria.

  1. ALIMA Treats Lassa Fever Patients
    In January 2018, the Alliance for International Medication Action (ALIMA) commenced a rapid emergency response to Nigeria’s Lassa fever epidemic. ALIMA also supported the rehabilitation of a 38-bed treatment center for patients in Owo.
    “The goal is to catch cases early, and improve the chances of survival for those who become infected,” said Guillaume Le Duc, ALIMA’s Lassa fever coordinator.
  2. The Cross River’s Sensitization Against Lassa Fever
    On Jan. 30, 2018, Nigeria’s Cross River state increased its sensitization and awareness campaign against Lassa fever, hoping to prevent further outbreaks of the disease. Dr. Inyang Asibong, Cross River’s commissioner for health, said the campaign was necessary since two cases of Lassa fever were recorded from migrants who entered Cross River. Asibong also gave nose masks, disposable gowns, gloves and other protective equipment to the state’s health workers.
  3. Gombe’s Investment to Prevent Lassa Fever
    On Jan. 31, 2018, Nigeria’s Gombe state earmarked ₦20 million for preventing the outbreak of Lassa fever to its people. Dr. Kennedy Ishaya, Gombe’s state commissioner for health, said the funds were part of the amount set aside for Gombe’s Rapid Response Committee (RRC). Gombe’s RRC will use the money to protect the state’s people from Lassa fever and other diseases.
  4. Hand Washing Helps Prevent Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 5, 2018, UNICEF and the Imo state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) sensitized Nigerians on how handwashing can prevent Lassa fever.
    “Medical reports have it that the simple act of washing hands constantly with soap can reduce infections by 50 percent,” said Nkechi Okorocha, wife of the Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha. Chika Edom, the RUWASSA program manager, said that hand washing is part of UNICEF’s initiative to keep Nigeria’s people alive and healthy.
  5. Nigeria’s Proposal for a More Established CDC
    On Feb. 8, 2018, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) asked the National Assembly to pass a bill that would financially help the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (CDC) treat Lassa fever cases. Dr. Mike Ogirima, the NMA president, was displeased from poorly-equipped ambulances transferring Lassa fever patients to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo. Though the bill went through first and second readings at the house level, it has yet to be passed into law.
  6. The World Health Organization Works to Contain Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 20, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria. The WHO deployed staff to support Nigeria’s government agencies. The WHO’s representatives are also helping rapid response teams contain Lassa fever in the Ondo, Ebonyi and Edo states.
  7. Redeemer University Could Eliminate Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 20, 2018, Redeemer University revealed its capacity to contain and eliminate Lassa fever through research activities.
    “We are behind the scene, providing solutions to Lassa fever in the country,” said Debo Adeyewa, the university’s vice-chancellor. Adeyewa also revealed that the Lassa fever outbreak was being managed at the Edo state’s Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
  8. Governor Obaseki’s Work to Contain Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 22, 2018, Governor Godwin Obaseki said that no case of Lassa fever had been reported at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital for the past two weeks. Governor Obaseki’s administration purchased and deployed equipment to the hospital and is working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria.
    “That no death has been recorded since our intervention goes to show that we read the signs correctly, mobilized skilled manpower and tackled the challenge head-on,” said Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki’s special adviser on media and communication strategy.
  9. The U.K.’s Work for Nigeria
    On Feb. 27, 2018, the U.K. sent two epidemiologists, a logistician and other experts to help Nigeria contain its Lassa fever outbreak. The U.K.’s public health rapid support team will also provide Nigeria with research assistance.
    “Viruses like Lassa Fever do not respect borders, and it is only right that we share our expertise with countries facing serious outbreaks around the world,” said Public Health Minister Steve Brine.

While many Nigerians continue to be infected with Lassa fever, efforts to treat and save patients’ lives will not stop. The World Health Organization, the U.K. and other entities are working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria and could inspire more parties to help. Supplying the country’s hospitals with necessary medical equipment to treat patients will also play a role in helping Nigeria control Lassa fever and other diseases.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

Using soap is the simplest way of preventing the spread, contracting and infection of diseases. This luxury is only available and affordable in developed nations. Lack of access to clean water, poor sanitation and hygiene contribute to two leading causes of high child mortality in the poorest countries: pneumonia and diarrhea. The simple practice of washing hands with soap reduces this risk by 50 percent.

Because so many people who live in these countries do so on a dollar a day, soap is a luxury rather than a necessity. This leads to a higher risk of illnesses that might have been prevented by simple hygiene like washing hands. Because of its relatively high cost within many economies, Clean the World reports that 35 percent of health care facilities in impoverished countries lack soap.

Shawn Seipler, founder of Clean the World, learned that most of the barely used hotel soap bars ended up in landfills after guests check out. According to the Global Soap Project, the hotel industry in the U.S., which uses a third of the global soap supply, throws away an astonishing 2.6 million bars of soap on a daily basis.

Seipler chose to change this by recycling soap hotels were throwing away. He has dedicated his time and effort to recycling soap and sending it to developing countries for continued use. “The recycling, which ends up costing hotels just 75 cents per room a month, allows leftover soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner to be melted down, sterilized and formed into new soap that is sent all over the world.” Since Clean the World began in 2009, the organization has delivered 40 million bars of soap to more than 115 countries.

In 2015, Clean the World partnered with the Global Soap Project to increase production, delivery and outreach. Since the partnership formation, in addition to joining forces with contributions from 4,000-plus hotels, they have delivered 24 million bars of soap to 99 countries.

Seipler focuses his recycling efforts on bringing soap to schools within developing countries. The result of his recycling efforts might be an additional 1.9 billion school days. Clean the World is also working to provide soap to health care facilities and communities.

It is hopeful that the impact from the above projects will help improve not only health, but the overall quality of life in undeveloped nations.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Flickr


For those living in developed countries, having access to private toilets is taken for granted. Having access to something as simple as private toilets changes lives drastically but about 2.3 billion people or a third of the world does not have access to them. This puts their health, education and safety at risk, as reported by The Huffington Post.

According to The Indian Express, approximately 60 percent of people in India do not have access to safe toilets. The people most affected by this are women and girls. They have no other choice but to relieve themselves outdoors. This puts them at a higher risk of getting assaulted or contracting diseases due to a lack of sanitation.

If private toilets exist in a community or neighborhood, they tend to be far and few between. More often than not, many schools in developing regions do not have sanitary facilities. When girls attending school don’t have access to sanitation, they have no privacy to deal with their needs and end up having to miss class when menstruating. This will often discourage girls from going to school at all, to avoid embarrassment and falling behind in school.

However, even if there is access to clean water and a private bathroom, many will continue to use the outdoors. According to The Guardian, particularly in India, many men still prefer to go outside to defecate, even if they have already installed a toilet at home. It gives them a moment of quiet as they survey their farmlands.

The results of using the outdoors as a toilet are negative. The practice continues to pollute already scarce water sources and to spread diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. Other health risks include malnutrition and childhood stunting, which impairs 161 million children every year, according to a report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

A study released by WaterAid states that nearly 40 percent of India’s children are stunted. Stunting can affect not only their lives but the country’s prosperity in the future. Also, diarrheal diseases kill 700,000 every year.

Despite various governments’ pledges to install toilets in every home, little has been done to improve education about the damages that unsanitary practices cause.

Prime Minister Modi of India has made the issue of sanitation a top priority. In 2014 Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission, which translates to Clean India. This project aims to ensure a toilet in every home by 2019 and to teach people about the long-term consequences of using proper sanitation. In order to provide everyone with access to toilets, India would have to build 100 million.

March 22 was United Nations World Toilet Day. There is the hope that the day will increase awareness and educate about the importance of access to toilets.

Michelle Simon

Photo:  Flickr

sanitation as a Human RightThe end of the year saw the recognition of sanitation as a human right, separate and distinct from other acknowledged human rights, by the United Nations General Assembly. The Assembly adopted a resolution early in December 2015, recognizing the distinct nature of sanitation as a human right. Previously the right of sanitation was linked to the right to safe drinking water. This combination right was only recognized by the U.N. in 2010.

While both the rights continue to have a strong relation, Léo Heller, a U.N. Special Reporter focused on the human rights of safe drinking water and sanitation, said the split would help governments and non-governmental organizations to focus more specifically on what needs to be done. Having sanitation as a standalone right demonstrates that sanitation is not solely tied to water.

“It gives people a clearer perception of the right, strengthening their capacity to claim this right when the State fails to provide the services or when they are unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible or with inadequate privacy,” said Heller.

The U.N. reports that more than 2.5 billion people worldwide, one-third of the total world population, live without access to proper toilets.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that hygienic sanitation facilities are crucial for public health. With this in mind, the U.N. hopes that the effect of recognizing sanitation as a human right will curb a major source of deadly infections.

A recent U.N. study found that more than 443 million school days are lost every year due to sanitation and water-related issues. Inadequate sanitation facilities are a common barrier for school attendance, particularly for girls.

“It is hoped that this will have a direct impact on those women, children, people with disabilities and marginalized individuals and groups who currently lack access to sanitation . . . an opportunity to highlight their plight,” Mr. Heller said.

Heller continued saying, “The move to making sanitation its own human right means that we can directly address the particular human rights challenges associated with sanitation.”

Progress in sanitation is being made. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015, 68 percent of the world’s population had access to improved sanitation facilities including flush toilets and covered latrines, compared with 54 percent in 1990.

Despite reports like this, the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target to halve the proportion of the population without access to improved sanitation facilities was missed by almost 700 million people.

The worldwide provision of clean water and sanitation is the sixth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the U.N. in September. These goals are a part of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Kara Buckley

Sources: UN, WHO
Photo: Wikipedia

Projects to Send Soap to Developing Countries
In the U.S., over two million bars of hotel soap are thrown away every year. It is not universally known that hygiene products that are so often found in landfills can be repurposed.

The Clean the World nonprofit association partnered with the Global Soap Project (GSP) has since delivered more than 25 million bars of soap to developing countries. “We don’t just drop off soap and leave,” according to the partnership. “We’re creating a positive health impact that is sustained long-term by making hand-washing and local soap purchases a lifelong habit.”

The popular phrase “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime” plays into this project. There’s more to it than simply giving people soap. The two organizations are advocating for global hygiene education because good hygiene education (and, by extension, good hygiene) creates healthier communities.

Hotels can register at and are given instructions on how to send in their donations. The soap is grouped up and treated in a laboratory. Subsequently, bars are cut and sent to countries in need. Afterward, NGO partners send back results to GSP on distribution and hygiene education.

“To date, we’ve worked with partners in 32 countries to distribute lifesaving soap and hygiene education to vulnerable populations, including disaster victims, refugees, the homeless and mothers and children living in extreme poverty,” says GSP on its website. After these populations receive it, GSP and Clean the World makes sure that they have access to it for the rest of their lives. This creates an immediate health impact that not only supports local economies but also fosters independence on nonprofits and self-sustainability.

Anna Brailow

Sources: Clean the World, Global Soap 1, Global Soap 2, Global Soap 3, Global Soap 4
Photo: CNN

Pure Water for the World
Pure Water for the World (PWW) is an international nonprofit organization helping end the world water crisis. The organization currently works in Haiti and Honduras, bringing “water filtration, safe sanitation and hygiene education” to struggling communities.

Almost 1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean water, and according to PWW, “Lack of clean water, lack of sanitation and unfamiliarity with good hygiene practices kill more people every year than all acts of war and violence, auto accidents and HIV/AIDS combined.”

It is clear the state of water is dismal, and PWW is doing something about it.

The organization has a community-based approach, with 90 percent of its employees operating on the ground in Haiti or Honduras “changing lives by empowering people to be a part of the solution.”

Functioning mainly in rural areas, PWW first scouts out potential communities by meeting with community leaders and assessing which areas need the most improvement.

In order to maximize the number of people that benefit from its work, PWW identifies key locations, often schools and health clinics, where it installs its water filtration technology and sanitation facilities.

While installing new technologies to create clean water is a useful strategy, educational training is the backbone of PWW’s programs.

In target communities, an individual is chosen by the locals to be trained to maintain and fix PWW’s systems. This allows for the region to become self-sufficient, so that when the organization leaves, the improvements can be maintained.

In addition to recognizing one community member as a sanitation leader, hygiene education is also given to communities at large.

If just one person misuses a central water source, contamination can occur; PWW makes efforts to ensure that all are educated about how to properly sustain hygiene. Education is essential to create long-term improvements.

The organization epitomized the importance of education when it said, “PWW can deliver safe water to a village, but without the knowledge of how and why this improves their lives, and the tools to reduce disease, water will be temporary medicine at best – treating the symptoms without rooting out the underlying causes.”

To ensure that all installations have gone as planned, PWW returns to communities three months after the initial work is finished to ensure that everyone has received proper training, and again after seven months to assess the overall effectiveness of its program.

These final evaluations allow for the organization to adapt to new challenges and to learn how to better tackle water crises.

As stated by PWW, “Improved water, sanitation and hygiene practices saves lives and has significant implications in reducing poverty.” By installing technology to create clean water, and by educating people about how to maintain clean water and prevent water-borne diseases, Pure Water for the World is helping eliminate poverty, and is making a difference in people’s lives.

— Emily Jablonski

Sources: Classy, Pure Water for the World
Photo: Pure Water for the World

tooth brushing
UNICEF signs Tendulkar as Goodwill Ambassador: “Thanks for allowing me to start this wonderful second innings of my life. I’m looking forward to being an ambassador for UNICEF and serve to the best of my ability. This is an innings that is really important to me, so I will try my best,” – Tendulkar.

Recently, the well-known Cricket star Sachin Tendulkar (AKA Master Blaster) and UNICEF joined forces. Tendulkar is now the UNICEF Ambassador for South Asia and will focus primarily on hygiene and sanitation needs.

“I humbly accept the responsibility for being Ambassador for UNICEF in South Asia. I look forward to working with children and communities in the region, urging them to use toilets and wash their hands. Following simple practices can contribute to a hygienic lifestyle which is important for the good health of children and women across the world,” stated Tendulkar during a signing ceremony in November.

UNICEF hopes that Tendulkar will be able to raise an incredible amount of awareness for these issues through his successful career as a Cricket star. Tendulkar is newly retired from India’s team but not before he was able to become the first cricket player to ever bat a double hundred in a one a day international.

With his far reaching reputation as being the greatest cricketer pushing South Asians toward better sanitation practices should have a large impact. South Asia is number two when it comes to the highest number of underage five deaths. It is also an area where the largest amounts of people do not have access to toilets.

There is definitely a connection between these issues and child mortality rates.  Besides Tendulkar’s newest partnership with UNICEF, in past years he has made many contributions to the well-being of others. Tendulkar has definitely offered his share of good deeds throughout his career, although the deeds have been kept mostly out of the public eye until now. Starting next year Tendulkar will begin his journey with UNICEF by visiting several countries to spread the word about Sanitation.

Amy Robinson

Sources: UNICEF

The loo, can, John, privy, water closet or bathroom – no matter what it is called, the toilet is a universally valued sanitation need.  That said, this year marked the first official celebration of World Toilet Day. While the day has been informally recognized by sanitation advocacy groups for 13 years, the United Nations officially declared November 19 World Toilet Day this year.

“To have it inscribed as a U.N. official day,” says World Toilet Organization founder Jack Sim, “means we now have the … legitimacy to engage at country and local levels to generate awareness down to where it matters most. We’ve finally broken the taboo on sanitation.”

Lack of proper sanitation poses a threat to many developing nations around the world. In fact, more than 2.5 billion people lack proper sanitation, states Devex, and are at an increased risk for waterborne illnesses. Five years ago in Harare, Zimbabwe, more than 400,000 were killed and 100,000 sickened by cholera, states the Huffington Post.

The densely populated city still faces health and sanitation risks today.  A new report titled “Troubled Water: Burst Pipes, Contaminated Wells, and Open Defecation in Zimbabwe’s Capital” captures the dangerous living conditions of many of the nation’s citizens.  The lack of proper filtration, sanitation and clean water violate fundamental human rights, the report claims.

Zimbabwe has not always lacked proper sanitation systems, however.  Until the 1980s the country had a functioning sewage system, but governmental neglect and corruption has allowed the system to deteriorate and cause public hazards.

“The government’s inability to maintain the water system and its practice of disconnecting those unable to pay,” Human Rights Watch Southern Africa director Tiseke Kasambala says,” forces people to drink water from contaminated taps or from unprotected wells.” Sewage lines the streets of many communities where inhabitants also lack clean water for bathing and drinking.

The situation is not much better in Haiti and according to Devex, only one-third of the Caribbean nation has access to toilets. More than 680,00 people have contracted cholera, with nearly 8,400 dying from the disease in the last three years. Researchers, however, are using defecation as an opportunity to develop sustainable energy practices.

Professors from the University of Maryland and Biobolsa of Mexico have designed a technology that utilizes anaerobic digesters to break down organic matter and transform it into methane.  The methane biogas can then be used to generate electricity and heat homes.

The researchers and technicians have high hopes for the project. “We hope this project can be used to bring together these WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] communities through the sharing of our rigorous evaluation data, survey results and workshop materials,” University of Maryland’s Stephanie Lansing said, “so the sanitation model implemented here in Haiti can be replicated throughout the development community.”

Though improper sanitation and hygiene practices threaten many developing nations, work is underway to flush these public health hazards down the drain and transform them into sustainable development opportunities.

– Mallory Thayer

Sources: Devex: Learning to love the loo, The Huffington Post, Devex: Haiti
Photo: New Times

According to a new study linking hygiene and height, soap and clean water for hand washing can help increase growth in young children. Previous medical studies have proven that better hygiene can reduce outbreaks of diarrhea among children less than five years, but the studies failed to measure its impact on a child’s height.

The most recent study showed a slight improvement in average growth by half a centimeter among children who used proper hand-washing techniques as opposed to those who did not. Researchers concluded that clean water and soap decreased stunting—when a child is too short for his/her age— by as much as 15 percent.

Further scientific evidence is also showing a connection between instances of diarrhea and a child’s development. The evidence shows that repeated bouts of diarrhea can reduce the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients that allow children to develop a healthy mind and body.

Alan Dangour, a public health nutritionist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and one of the study’s lead authors, said that “WASH”—water, sanitation, and hygiene—fits all the characteristics of a underlying cause of malnutrition.

Dangour and his colleagues found 14 studies conducted in low- to middle income countries that provided data on the effects of the WASH program on the growth of nearly 9,500 children. Five of the studies included control groups of children who did not receive soap and clean water, but who were similar in most other ways to the children who did.

Chronic malnutrition, which causes stunting, is a foremost cause of preventable mental disabilities in children under five-years old. It claims the lives of nearly three million young children per year.

Until now there has been no research conducted on the direct impact of WASH interventions on nutrition. Researchers believe that further, more “robust” evidence is needed. Nevertheless, these findings are significant, and they remain hopeful that WASH could be the simple ‘cure for stunting.’

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: IRIN, The Lancet, Wiley Online Library
Photo: Examiner