I’ve witnessed many, many broken water systems over the years but it seems this trip to Haiti is trying to break some kind of record. Every single city I’ve visited has a water system. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on each one of them and not one of them is functioning. Among the cities I’ve visited on this trip are Verrettes, Petite Riviere d’L Artibonite, St Michel, Pignon and Hinche. The populations of these cities range from 10 to 50,000 people. They are capital cities, centers of commerce, education and health. If there should be one place for people to find refuge and infrustructure that works it should be in these cities.
I have spent countless hours on the water systems for Pignon and Hinche. But neither has a drop of water flowing in them. The reason… people living near the spring want a highway built to their remote villages so they dug up the pipe and smashed it. The pipe was repaired and they smashed it again. It is incomprehensible to me how such a small group of people can be so selfish that they would cut off the water supply to tens of thousands of people just so they can have a smoother, wider road built to their remote villages.
In Verrettes, Petite Riviere and St Michel rural villagers have also sabotaged the water systems to prevent water from reaching the city. They either smashed holes in the pipe or there are broken water taps at critical low points in the supply pipeline causing all of the pressure to be lost in the system.
In yet another small village outside of St Michele we witnessed a water system missing just 2 pieces of pipe. Rather than organize and repair the system at a cost of perhaps $1,000 the entire village of 1,000 plus people hikes over a thousand vertical feet up the mountain to collect and carry every drop of water they need for drinking, bathing and doing laundry. If repaired the water system would deliver water to a system of public taps a mere stones throw from each of their front doors.
Haiti it seems is so completely messed up it’s hard to imagine what if any good my work here is doing. But somewhere deep down I know I’m doing the right thing so I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on.