Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation

The most credible news source in Barbados

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says more than 30,000 people displaced by gang violence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, now have access to safe drinking water. (UNICEF Photo)

UNICEF provides safe drinking water in Haiti

May 10, 2024

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says more than 30,000 people displaced by gang violence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, now have access to safe drinking water.

The UN said Port-au-Prince has been in the grip of armed groups for several years now, and roughly two months ago the gangs launched coordinated attacks which paralysed the metropolitan area.

Since then, UNICEF said alongside the National Directorate for Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) and partners, they have provided more than 2.6 million liters of safe drinking water to children and families across 20 sites housing those displaced.

UNICEF said the recent escalation of violence has compounded the already dire situation faced by children and families, who already lack essential support and facilities.

It said the current rainy season has only added to their plight, leading to major flooding in lowland areas of the capital and the resurgence of cholera cases in Cité Soleil, an extremely impoverished neighborhood.

“With no drinking quality water and adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, displaced children are exposed to water-borne diseases, more specifically to a widespread cholera outbreak,” said Ruben Um Bayiha, chief of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme, adding “operating in such an insecure and volatile environment is akin to navigating a war zone every day”.

Despite the challenges, UNICEF said together with the partners they are stepping up efforts to protect children and families and provide the lifesaving support they desperately need.

UNICEF said it leads WASH response in Haiti, providing over half of overall support, ensuring safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services at all displacement sites.

Initiatives include trucking water, treating piped water, repairing water supply and sanitation systems, building temporary latrines, providing essential hygiene items, and delivering hygiene messages, UNICEF said.

It said its WASH efforts “yielded significant outcomes” during March, with over 700,000 gallons of chlorinated water distributed to displaced families and children.

UNICEF said collaborative efforts with partners, such as the aid organizations Solidarités International, ORRAH and ACTED, have ensured that essential needs were met “even in the most challenging circumstances.”

Furthermore, UNICEF said it and its partners have distributed hygiene kits to almost 11,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) across six sites.

UNICEF said it has also prioritized improving sanitary conditions in the high-risk IDP sites, including removing and safely disposing about 78 cubic meters of fecal sludge from three sites accommodating roughly 7,000 people.

Um Bayiha upheld the agency’s commitment to addressing evolving needs, particularly as the region braces for the upcoming hurricane season. Yet, he warned that “this crisis will worsen unless the response is scaled up urgently,” underscoring the need for funding.

UNICEF said it aims to support more than 884,000 people across Haiti this year to access quality water for drinking and domestic needs, as well as appropriate sanitation services and critical WASH supplies.

Meanwhile, UN said its humanitarians and partners have been supporting people affected by recent gang clashes in Delmas commune in Port-au-Prince.

Meals, shelter and other supplies have been provided to displaced persons and the host community, and the hope is that assistance will ramp up as soon as security allows, the UN said.

The World Food Programme (WFP)  has so far this week distributed food to 264,000 schoolchildren and more than 5,600 displaced people in the capital.

About The Author

Share this!