The community of Nan Sucrin resides in a small town called Délices, in the commune of Arcahaie. Access to safe water is a major issue here, despite the availability of some suitable springs. The people of Délices are able to access 6 kiosks.* However, for some households these kiosks can be up to 3 miles away. Not only is this journey to gather water arduous, it also prevents community members from doing other beneficial tasks such as attending school or earning valuable income to support their families. The people of Delices recognized the negative impacts of having to walk so far for water, so they decided to request a well from Haiti Outreach.
Lack of water is not the only problem in this community. Open air defecation* remains a very common practice, and getting communities to understand the implications of not using a designated latrine can be a challenge. There are multiple cultural barriers that prevent progress in this area, including the fact that the topic itself is taboo, and there is a reluctance to change old habits.
Adith Pierre, a field coordinator for Haiti Outreach, shared, “Solving the problem of sanitation, especially in rural areas, is a very important part of achieving the well-being of populations, particularly children and underprivileged groups. This is what justifies the intervention of Haiti Outreach in Délices where the rate of sanitation is still very low and that of open air defecation very high.” Despite the training they receive about the importance of adopting good hygiene and sanitation practices, many still do not use a latrine. Adith shared this example, “Recently, a woman, and mother of two, built her own latrine after completing our 3 month training course on sanitation and hygiene from Haiti Outreach. I noticed that she had not used her latrine, so I asked [her] what the reason was. She told me that she doesn’t use it in broad daylight because she doesn’t want people in the community to see her defecate in a latrine. I understood that she was ashamed of the latrine but was not ashamed to defecate in nature because she was just used to it. We really have a long way to go in terms of training to help these people. ”
A mentality shift takes time, patience, and a culturally sensitive approach. Despite the challenges, Haiti Outreach remains committed to providing sustainable water access and improving the health of everyone in Haiti through access to adequate and sustainable clean water and the adoption of good hygiene and sanitation practices. To improve the wellbeing of the Nan Sucrin population, Haiti Outreach wishes to not only help them learn to manage their well to ensure sustainable access to safe drinking water, but also to instill the value of using a proper latrine and handwashing to prevent further health related issues that can be detrimental for a community. Guiding community members to change old habits is certainly not easy, but we must not stop because the impacts are life-saving.
*kiosk = a water system where people pay to fill their buckets or jerry cans for a fee
*open air defecation = going to the bathroom in nature vs. a designated latrine