Getting a drink of clean water is a simple task to the majority of first world countries. We can simply walk to a water faucet and instantly have clean drinkable water. However, the world water crisis is real and 1 in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water 1. That is 663 million people. According to the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the #1 global risk based on the impact on society2. Haiti is one of nation's most affected, especially since the earthquake hit Port-au-Prince in 2010.
Haiti is a nation that speaks both French and Creole with a population of 10.4 million people. 52% of their rural population does not have access to safe drinking water and 81% doesn’t have access to sanitation facilities3. It is horrific stats like this that encouraged Sam Carpenter of North Carolina to make a difference thirteen years ago.
Sam has worked with large community projects, to one on one impact missions. He has found that his one on one interaction with local Haitians has longer lasting results rather that large scale projects. Sam visits Haiti one or two times a year where he re-visits villages he has served to maintain progress and then visits one additional village.
In March of 2017, Sam and HydroBlu teamed up to help more people in need and Sam took over 100 HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filters to Haiti.
The project went very well. On this trip Kyle, my youngest son, and I spent several days up the river from the city of Jacmel in a village named Mabeiel, which is 3 hours from the airport in Port-au-Prince. Mabeiel has two churches which double as schools and one clinic. It’s not much of a village, but serves a large amount of locals.
While visiting the local Baptist church and school we found only about 40% of the original Sawyer filters in use. The school principal explained that there were several reasons for them not using the old filters. Many were stolen, some were broken, and some clogged beyond use. Last October, after Hurricane Matthew the river came way up and was very contaminated with silt. The filters became clogged and left to dry out. Once a filter is clogged and dried out they were no longer serviceable.
We replaced all the Sawyer filters with new HydroBlu filters. With the locals we discussed at length how to prefilter with a cloth prior to running the water through the bucket. Easy to say, hard to get them to understand. We serviced the clinic, and found none of the original filters install 2 years prior. They had no clue where the original filters went.
Next we went to the Catholic church and school where a group of U.S. doctors were doing a medical mission. We met a lady attorney who was in charge and has been setting up clinics at this church for 6 years. She was very informative and supplied us with information about the villages further up the river. They are in dire need of help with many water issues. Now we know where we will be going next. There are no roads further up the river so it looks like a backpacking trip to reach these remote areas.
This church had a water system that they have been using for many years which was 2 five gallon buckets stacked on top of each other. The top bucket was a sediment filter made of string and the second bucket had carbon filters that were not working. We installed 25 filters at this location. They provided education from 1st-10th grade with over 200 students. They use the river for their water.
I was directed to a man across the river that had dug a well which filled him with pride. His well was 20 ft from the river and only 10 ft deep. The soil quality and rocks make it very difficult to dig wells. Sadly, it was located downhill from his septic system. Water from the well was prefiltered with two sediment filters and looked clear but may have had countless bacteria. We installed 3 filters at this location.
He also had a sugar cane still going and provided moonshine for the Catholic community. I'm guessing the alcohol kills the river bug. The locals looked pretty healthy.
The filters are good but we can't control the thievery, river sediment, or lack of proper maintenance. My youngest son Kyle truly enjoyed the project and was very helpful.
Sam estimates that the 100 HydroBlu water filters that he installed will provide clean water for 450 Haitians over the next year. Even though the water crisis is a world problem with countless individuals affected, Sam has touched the lives one person at a time. While reaching the masses is the overall goal the best way is to help everyday people one filter at a time.
World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2015) Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2015 Update and MDG Assessment.
World Economic Forum. (2015). Global Risks 2015 Report.
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook: Haiti.