LGF water technology-changing lives in Haiti

What’s the difference between clean water and unclean water? Well, add to that question the fact that someone will be drinking it and you get an unexpected answer: it’s quality of life.

In order to begin to understand what this really means, lets consider two measures used to determine a population’s health liabilities, Years of Life Lost (YLL) and Years Lived with Disability (YLD). These measures are based against something that many in the developed world take for granted: a long, healthy life expectancy.

In many parts of the world however, the difference between how long and healthy a person could live and how long and healthy they do live is staggering, and much of this is due to the absence of a simple resource. Clean water.

Girl carrying water. Port au Prince, Haiti. May 2010

And, as it often is, the young, the immunocompromised and the poor are the one’s most at risk. In sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, seemingly simple conditions like diarrhoea, borne from by rotavisruses, bacteria, and parasites in water, alone kills more young children in the developing world than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

The accumulated disability of those who do not die from their disease is equally staggering. Unicef estimates that 443 million school days are lost each year to water-related diseases, and it requires no stretch of the imagination to understand the impact this has on childrens’ education and their future earning potential.

It becomes clear that any approach to assisting the developing world, whether it be primarily ethical, economical, or politically driven, must put the provision of clean water in the central spot. It is the most highly leveraged investment, for any of these concerns,  that can be made in any community that lacks access to it.

Think of this, in many rural and urban areas of the developing world, point-of-use (POU) water-quality interventions can reduce diarrhoea morbidity by more than 40%. It is the single most effective preventative measure, and adds millions of healthy, happier, productive days to the world community. Sadly, while these simple solutions await deployment, very difficult conditions are prevalent and persist in many parts of the world, including Haiti, right now.

Kids with new water bottles. St Dominique's School, Marigot

To address this real need, LGF is on the ground in Haiti, working to ensure that as many children as possible have access to clean water. So that they can attend school regularly, so they gain an education that will build the future of their communities, so that they can experience life free from disease, and so that they can live to be an adult.

We’d love to share some examples of our work that demonstrate the positive impacts of water purification at the source and the benefits it brings to the community.

For instance, the installation of an LGF Rapid Response 10,000UF unit at St Dominique’s school in Marigot. Thanks to the generous contribution from our partners, Providence Haiti, LGF had the opportunity of working with local community leader, Father Luke, who knew only too well what access to clean water would mean for his community. Our system produced the first clean water the community had had since the earthquake and now supports a school of 350 children, many of whom were too sick to attend on a daily basis due to suffering severe dysentery. Within days of our system being installed, these children were back to full health and back to school.

On the same trip in April, we had the pleasure of setting up another one of our LGF Rapid Response 10,000UF units at Cambry orphanage, Les Cayes, and to spend time with the orphans there. It was such a treat. The unit has now been in place for over 4 months and supplies the entire local community with safe, clean drinking water. Prior to the installation, the children were responsible for hauling heavy buckets full of water over a kilometer from a local pump station back to their respective shelters. This was time spent away from school, and time spent in quite heavy labor. The children can now access much cleaner water, much closer to their respective dorms. These may sound like small achievement in the overall scheme of things, but accumulatively over time it is clear that their positive impacts, and that of LGF committing to changing lives in Haiti, will be considerable. We are looking forward to seeing the matured effects.

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