In Haiti, lack of access to quality water and sanitation has hit the population severely, with the poorest citizens suffering the most. Between 1990 and 2015, the share of the population with access to potable water decreased from 62% to 52%. Sanitation is also a critical issue; over the same period, access to enhanced sanitation installations only increased by 1% among the poorest in the rural areas. Among the urban poor, it actually declined by 3%.
While the lack of clean water and sanitation has been a major problem in Haiti for years, the situation became dire in 2010 after a massive earthquake destroyed many of the existing sanitation systems. As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, with more than 90% of the population at risk. Almost 60% of Haitians live below the poverty line of $2.41 a day, and millions struggle to find clean drinking water.
The water and sanitation sector, however, now has solid means to achieve progress thanks to a close collaboration with the Government and to the efforts of the Direction nationale de l’eau potable et de l’assainissement (DINEPA): Tools have been designed to assess the situation, to map the available resources, and to address the challenges of the water and sanitation sector with a clear roadmap.
On January 29, a one-day workshop was organized by the World Bank in Port-au-Prince to present the findings of the latest studies focusing on the water and sanitation sectors and funded by the Bank and the DINEPA. After several years of dialogue and partnership between the Haitian Government and the donors’ community, this day of exchanges allowed stakeholders to take stock of the work accomplished so far.
Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Group Senior Director for Water, and Caren Grown, World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender, wrote a blog for Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of World Toilet Day. Read the blog below, which originally appeared in Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Advancing equality for women in developing countries is not only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense.
Gender equality enhances productivity, improves well-being, and renders governing bodies more representative. And yet around the world, discriminatory laws, preferences, and social norms ensure that girls and women learn less, earn less, own less, enjoy far fewer opportunities to achieve their potential, and suffer disproportionately in times of scarcity or shock.
When compared to urban water supply, rural areas present a different set of challenges:
Often, the cost per capita of constructing water systems is higher in rural than in urban areas, due to a smaller population which is scattered over a large area. This, in turn, leads to high operating costs, to be recovered by fewer users.
Most importantly, there may not always be an obvious institution to take the responsibility of managing and operating the system after construction. This institutional vacuum leads to poor collection of water fees, and ultimately to poor operation and maintenance of the rural water systems.