Safe Water Story #6: In Haiti with HelpAge International
In July of last year, 600 GrifAid® Family Aquafilters were distributed to households headed by older persons in rural areas of Haiti.
The distribution came about as a consequence of the work done by HelpAge International to provide safe water to areas affected by cyclone Sandy in 2012. HelpAge had already installed rain collecting systems which reduced water fetching times by 75%, but problems arising from an inability to treat contaminated water persisted.
As a consequence, all of these areas were still prone to cholera and other water-borne diseases and at the time the water filters were distributed, 94% of the recipients said they were living with health problems and 64% had to walk more than 30 minutes to find water. A staggering 10% of all medical consultations related to diarrhoea alone.
In November of 2014, HelpAge released their final report which confirmed that not only had the number of cases of diarrhoea been greatly reduced, but also that the arrival of the water filters was so well received that the communities spontaneously setup a filter sharing arrangement so that even families who had not been given a filter could benefit.
The greatest endorsement of all came from the senior elder of Benait/Vallée Jacmel who said that the GrifAid® Family Aquafilters were the single best piece of aid that the community had ever received.
Whilst it is not certain that the improvement in the general health and well-being of the community can be solely ascribed to the filters, the success of their deployment is worthy of further investigation.
For this reason, David Monnier, the former head of delegation for the French Red Cross in Haiti and now the Business Development Manager for the Safe Water Trust, is returning to Haiti later this month. By speaking directly to the the HelpAge agents in the field and to the beneficiaries themselves, David hopes to learn the secrets to the trial’s success and if any lessons can be learned to make GrifAid® Aquafilters even more effective for other situations and environments.
This process of learning from the field is a core value of the Safe Water Trust ethos and it is one of the reasons why GrifAid Aquafilters are being used by NGO’s and charitable organisations in more than 40 countries around the world.
But learning is of little value unless it can be put to use and in that respect the Safe Water Trust is committed to reacting quickly to the lessons learned from the field. Already, as a consequence of the Haiti deployment, DfID asked if it would be possible to simplify the GrifAid® Family Aquafilter to make it more suitable for a drop-and-go deployment in the future. The Safe Water Trust’s design team, headed up by John Griffith, responded immediately and a new design has already been completed.
Hopefully, when David returns from Haiti we will be even better placed to continue achieving our primary aim: the provision of an inexpensive, reliable and sustainable means of obtaining safe water for all.