As the African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Indeed, Haiti Outreach recognizes the value of community involvement for progress and change. Very little would be accomplished without the water point committee (CPE)* who ensure the management of their wells for the people they serve. These leaders work tirelessly to make their neighborhoods better places to live by volunteering their time, recruiting other people, organizing activities, and raising awareness of other important issues including accessibility to potable water. These community leaders are often unsung heroes who join forces to support each other.
The water point committee leaders organize themselves to produce a report of the community’s progress. They record how much the families have contributed each month in case any families have not paid their share, and what expenses have been taken out to maintain the well. Examples of expenses include paying the guard to open and lock the well at the appropriate times, cleaning supplies, and parts needed for repair. In the past, the CPE leaders would submit this information to one of our inspectors who then would report to their supervisor Mr. Pierre.
In the past few months, we have pivoted our model to give the communities even more ownership in the sustainability of their well. They now collaborate with 8-10 other communities in their locality to complete the inspections. The intention is for them to take more ownership and hold each other accountable. Country Director Neil Van Dine affirmed that they are harder on each other than our hired staff is!
Now they meet on a monthly basis with Mr. Pierre, who receives the reports to ensure that the wells are being maintained and managed by the people. Mr. Pierre then enters the data into mWater* to ensure that our reports are accurate.
Given that Haiti is a very mountainous region and travel can be challenging, even dangerous at times, some communities have agreed to appoint a representative to bring their reports to Mr. Pierre. To facilitate this process, they set up a WhatsApp group to better communicate when reports are ready and pick them up at a meeting point.
Members of the water point committees met and decided to form support groups, at the rate of one leader for 10 communities in their municipality. The role of the leader is to collect well management reports in 10 localities. Thus far this approach has been working for over 3 months. For some, it works very well. For others, this is not the most effective method. The leader of the municipality of Lamothe, Mr. Jean Bata Innocent, complains of not being able to retrieve the reports and submit them on time because of the distance between the localities of his municipality since he has to travel by foot. Despite the challenges, he has not lost hope. He believes that over time everything will work out. Others even encourage him to be patient and to educate people better so they understand why collaboration is essential.
“I am very impressed by their resilience and their ability to adapt to the important changes that have taken place in their lives,” said Mr. Pierre. “The communities we have served in the Northwest have shown their extraordinary spirit and resourcefulness in helping each other cope with hardships, no matter what the circumstances.”
Capotille commune leader Brutus Kesnel believes he has been lucky in life and feels he must give back, especially to those in need. “Helping your community is a collective and moral responsibility. A way of honoring those who paved the way and laid the groundwork for us, leading to our global development. It’s about sharing and contributing, building skills and making connections towards a common goal. “
*CPE (Comité de Point d’Eau)
*mWater is an app that Haiti Outreach uses to map water points and sanitation facilities. Our data is transparent so other entities (private, nonprofit, or governmental) can benefit from this date and collaborate.