New latrines in Haitian village of Los Palmas

One of the most pressing problems Haiti faces is its lack of fresh drinking water and proper sanitation facilities. These factors combined with the fallout of the 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic, created a perfect storm, which only recently is Haiti starting to get under control. The death toll since 2010 has been over 8,500 lives.


Cholera is transmitted through dirty water, and has been a huge problem because water sanitation systems in Haiti are scarce. In addition, in a country of 10 million, 75% do not have a toilet in their homes, using open fields to defecate in.

A campaign to educate residents that learning to use a toilet is necessary and will save them from contracting cholera has been underway. The campaign is a two-pronged effort. One part teaches people how to build their own toilets out of corrugated iron, palm fronds, and wood. They are unsophisticated but a comfortable introduction to people unaccustomed to such a foreign concept.
The other part is a vaccination project to protect the population while it learns new behaviors. The vaccine is administered orally and last two years or more. .

Statistics compiled on the epidemic show the vaccine is effective. Last year 2013, 587 deaths were reported, this year only 70. Although this is very good news, World Health Organization's Dr. Jean Luc Poncelet warns "The country is sick . . . because of a lack of piped water and proper sanitation. That is really what needs to be addressed."

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