Thirsty Cities In War

Cholera in Haiti

Written By: Giorgio Nembrini

Summary Haiti

WRITTEN BY: GIORGIO NEMBRINI

On the 12 of January 2010 a powerful earthquake hit Haïti, leaving many cities and villages of the country and half of the capital, Port au Prince fairly damaged or destroyed. In Port au Prince more than 300’000 people were left  without  shelter and had to leave in makeshift camps , which  were built in any open space within the capital.

On October 2010 a cholera outbreak began to affect the people living around the Artibonite river and spread quickly, affecting the whole population of the country. Beginning of November, the epidemic hit Port au Prince. The less developed suburbs and particularly Cité Soleil or Martissant were severely affected.

Cite Soleil lays close to the sea and has an estimated population of about 160 to 250’000 thousands and working there has always been quite difficult, with  high crime records and poor security, due to different factions fighting for the control of any businesses.

Several attempts to improve the infrastructure have given some results but the area remains underdeveloped, with a high number of people living in informal settlements, where basic services are scanty.

Cholera has spread quickly within the suburb taking a high toll of severe cases and fatalities. Access to water has always been poor and there was a need to improve it and to improve the disinfection in order to avoid a possible transmission of the disease.

In this paper we will describe how we tackled the problem of the access to water and how we implemented some emergency disinfection of the water at the production, but also  where the water was distributed and consumed.

Data were collected quickly using modern techniques (GPS positioning) and immediately plotted  on geo-referenced maps or on Google Earth R images and analyzed with the use of a GIS software, allowing to streamline the intervention.

The evolution of the cases referred to the CTC (Cholera Treatment Centre) of MSF (Médecins sans Frontières) located at  the Choscal hospital within Cite Soleil, has also been followed, showing that water was probably not the vehicle of transmission, but the increased quantities and the disinfection of all the sources of water have certainly contributed, among other measures, to the fading down of the outbreak, end of November.

On the 12 of January 2010 a powerful earthquake hit Haïti, leaving many cities and villages of the country and half of the capital, Port au Prince fairly damaged or destroyed. In Port au Prince more than 300’000 people were left  without  shelter and had to leave in makeshift camps , which  were built in any open space within the capital colera in haiti

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