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Recent Water Systems Built in the Central Plateau

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on April 15, 2015 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I just visited three water systems built by Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP) in communities on the Central Plateau of Haiti.  The first is on the plateau north of Bassin Zim -- the Tinnenen spring in Carre Savanne.  The system consists of two spring caps and reservoirs that are connected and two faucets on the lower reservoir.  When I visited, it was the very end of a very dry season.  Although the water level was below the faucets, the community could still obtain precious clean water by dunking their buckets in the well.  

Detect languageAfrikaansAlbanianArabicArmenianAzerbaijaniBasqueBengaliBelarusianBulgarianCatalanChinese (Simp)Chinese (Trad)CroatianCzechDanishDutchEnglishEsperantoEstonianFilipinoFinnishFrenchGalicianGeorgianGermanGreekGujaratiHaitian CreoleHebrewHindiHungarianIcelandicIndonesianIrishItalianJapaneseKannadaKoreanLaoLatinLatvianLithuanianMacedonianMalayMalteseNorwegianPersianPolishPortugueseRomanianRussianSerbianSlovakSlovenianSpanishSwahiliSwedishTamilTeluguThaiTurkishUkrainianUrduVietnameseWelshYiddish
AfrikaansAlbanianArabicArmenianAzerbaijaniBasqueBengaliBelarusianBulgarianCatalanChinese (Simp)Chinese (Trad)CroatianCzechDanishDutchEnglishEsperantoEstonianFilipinoFinnishFrenchGalicianGeorgianGermanGreekGujaratiHaitian CreoleHebrewHindiHungarianIcelandicIndonesianIrishItalianJapaneseKannadaKoreanLaoLatinLatvianLithuanianMacedonianMalayMalteseNorwegianPersianPolishPortugueseRomanianRussianSerbianSlovakSlovenianSpanishSwahiliSwedishTamilTeluguThaiTurkishUkrainianUrduVietnameseWelshYiddish 
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On the Way to Wagouma

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on April 15, 2015 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 


By Susan Lea Smith, United Church of Christ Member of international Reference Group Ecumenical Water Network World Council of Churches

I went to Haiti over Spring Break and Holy Week. I visited water systems we had funded in Carre Savanne, Pedosant and Te Kase. But the place that stole my heart and burdens my soul is a place called Wagouma.

Wagouma is an area high in the mountains of Haiti, halfway between Hinche, the capitol of the Central Plateau, and the border of the Dominican Republic. You will not find the name “Wagouma” if you look for it on a map of Haiti. Instead you must search for the place, not too far from the town of Cerca La Source, where there is nothing, where the map shows not a single town or road. That is Wagouma.

The way to Wagouma is long and hard. Once we left Hinche, headed east towards Thomasique, we left the main road to wind up a verdant valley. When we reached the top of the valley, we headed off towards the top of a neighboring mountain. And beyond that mountain there were more mountains. Wagouma is the sort of place that gives rise to a Haitian proverb you may have heard, “Deye moun genyen moun,” the mountains have mountains, an analogy that speaks of the difficulty of everyday life in Haiti. Just as one climbs to the top of a mountain, one sees more mountains because the mountains have mountains.

But we climbed those mountains too. My friend and translator, Maccene, joked in Creole that our truck was climbing a palm tree. Then the path we were following grew steeper and rockier and Maccene exclaimed “Mis a’mi!” roughly translated as “WOW!” -- “now we really are climbing a palm tree.”

The “road” we were following was a boulder-strewn gully. For a while it had been a narrow motorcycle trail with donkey prints on either side. Now it had become a single file donkey trail, but still our truck, under the command of our expert driver Zhak, climbed higher up the palm tree.

Finally, even Zhak could drive no further. It was time to “alle a pil,” to go on foot. Led by our two guides from the community, we walked, Maccene the translator, Markendy Labedy the engineer in charge of building water systems and I. We hiked over two more hills, just 15 or 20 minutes, at a pace that left me panting…but that was little more than a stroll for our guides.

The first “souse” or spring we came to was brown with muddy water. The woman at the spring was attempting to enlarge the hole into which the spring seeped from the rock above. She bailed and bailed, moved some mud aside, and bailed again for another 10 minutes. Her two children pushed the water she bailed down the hill to prevent it from draining back. Eventually we could see a small trickle of clean water into the hole, but it was clearly too small a spring to invest in capping. But she and her children used a small bowl to scoop water to pour into their buckets. At least that day, they would walk home with precious water to drink and use for cooking.

The next spring was another 10 minute walk away. It was similarly disappointing, too small to justify capping.

Finally, after another 10 minute hike mostly downhill, our guides led us to the main spring in the region. It is the only perennial spring in the area, a spring that never dries up, even at the end of the dry season, which ironically coincided this year with Holy Week. The spring was not huge by any means, nothing like the rich springs of Natapo and Pedosant that I had visited earlier in the week. It was sufficient, however, to allow a full two quart bowl of water to be filled, time after time. And the water was clear.

It was clear, but it is not clean. The spring is located at the bottom of a 15 foot hole that has formed in a gully. At the bottom where the spring lies, the people can enter the spring area and secure water. Unfortunately, not just people enter that area, the people also bring their donkeys, bulls, cattle, goats and pigs to drink, for their animals have nowhere and nothing else to drink. The spring in Wagouma serves 14 communities with an estimated 700 families (about 4000-4500 people) and their livestock. Women and children walk as much as four hours to the spring, driving donkeys with water buckets dangling off their sides or bulls with water buckets hung on their horns. Then they wait to fill their buckets, sometimes hours. Finally, they return home after another four hour walk. This is their daily routine during the six months or so of the dry season from October to March. During the rainy season, they can draw water from tiny springs far closer to home.

The water at Wagouma is clear, but not clean, because it is contaminated both by animal waste and by the shared means of filling water buckets. Before, just a few years ago, only children died of the diseases communicated through dirty water. But then cholera came to Haiti and since then adults, young healthy adults, die also. So far more than 400 people from Wagouma have died from cholera. The traces of their deaths are found in the slight mounds along the side of the road, ringed with rocks. The most recent deaths in Wagouma were just three months ago, when three members of a family succumbed to cholera, no doubt contracted through this dirty water.

Bassiles St. Jean is a community organizer, or animator, with the Peasant Movement of Papay, known as MPP, which is the Haitian peasant organization that builds clean water systems using the funds we provide. When Bassiles speaks about the desperate plight of Wagouma, he has fire that lights up his dark Haitian eyes. Knowing that I speak Creole very poorly, he is still too impatient to wait for his words to be translated by Maccene. His eyes demand my attention. And his impassioned rapid fire Creole words need no translation. MPP must protect this precious spring now so that no more will die from dirty water.

Apart from the 400 cholera deaths in the last three years, perhaps 80 children die each year from the dirty water. If we could fund a spring cap and reservoir at Wagouma, we could save at least 2000 lives over the life of the system – at a cost of less than $10 per life. Ten dollars.

I came to Wagouma on Good Friday. When I measured the need of the people of Wagouma against the money we saved this year for clean water, I felt an overwhelming sense of despair, a sense that perhaps good would no longer triumph, that we no longer had the ability to be the hands of God for these people. We are thousands of dollars away from providing a single spring cap this year. And with deep angst, I wondered whether I was simply the bearer of false hope to these people who keep assuring me that our work and my presence is proof of God’s love.

When I arrived home on Saturday night, I admit I was still in that midst of that despair. But, then I came to church on Sunday, and found that contributions to the Pure Water Fund were continuing to trickle in. And, the stone rolled away from the tomb. I experienced the resurrection of hope that comes from being amidst all of you. With God’s help and your willingness to dig deep for dollars, I live in the hope, the Easter hope, that we will indeed be the instruments that God uses to transform the lives of the people of Wagouma.

If you want to help fund the spring cap and reservoir at Wagouma, please send a check to 1st Congregational UCC, 700 Marion Street NE, Salem, OR 97301. Put PURE WATER FUND in the memo. 100% of funds donated to the PURE WATER FUND are used for project costs like cement and masons. And they are tax deductible.

Susan

 

From Mark Hare's Blog

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on April 12, 2013 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finding Water in the Mountains of the Artibonite

by Mark Hare 

 Please visit http://http/markandjenny--pcusa.blogspot.com/2013/04/every-time-i-think-i-have-found.html for the full experiencel


"Every time I think I have found the community that is struggling with the most difficult situation in terms of water, I find people struggling with a problem that is even harder."

The week after MPP's 40th Anniversary Congress, I went with my friend from Oregon, Susan L. Smith to visit some of our work in the mountains of Verettes in Haiti's Artibonite. Susan is a professor of environmental law at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and a water justice advocate. She has worked with MPP (MPP website)for going on five years now, helping to provide funding and bring awareness of the need for clean water in the rural and disadvantaged communities of the Central Plateau. Susan is the Clean Water Leader for the United Church of Christ (UCC). 

The Artibonite valley, with the majestic Artibonite river running through, is considered Haiti's "rice basket." While water is superabundant in the lower elevations of Verettes, it is can be extremely difficult in the mountain communities. Hosted by Nestly Voltair and other leaders of ODEVPRE (Organization for Development and Environmental Protection of Verettes), Susan was invited by ODEVPRE to see first hand the needs of the communities surrounding a spring known as Remonsaint. This site was about two and a half hours of tedious driving on a barely existent road. Walking, the community is about the same distance from Verettes, taking the much (much) steeper foot paths.

 Susan Smith (blue shirt, red hat) visiting with the women and children patiently collecting water that slowly seeps into holes dug in the sand in this ravine. When I asked permission of the women to take this photo, they agreed without reservation, noting that the more people who know of their situation, the more hope they have that there can be change. Coordinates: N 18.99427, W 72.54382.

 Trying to get some type of estimate for the number of people who depend on this site for their water, we asked the folks collecting water how many communities used this site. They listed for us about ten different mountain communities that come here during the driest months of the year (usually January-March). Then we asked about how many people live in each of those communities. The response that was a range. Folks estimated that the smallest had as few as 200 and the largest had at least 500. We took 300 as a possible average, which would mean that this ravine may be the main water supply for as many as 3,000 mountain inhabitants, for some part of the year.

Capping the Remonsaint water source. A Swiss aid organization, Helvetas (Helvetas) is helping the community of Remonsaint cap the spring and build a large cistern to store the water. It impressed me to find a non-governmental organization able to identify a need in an area as remote as this, and respond.

We spent a good bit of time visiting the folks working on the large cistern that will hold water from the spring and Susan and I were particularly impressed with one of the workers and a member of a local community (Terre-nette), Onondieu Louisius.

Onondieu Louisius from Terre-nette, one of the workers building Remonsaint's cistern. Onondieu helped explain the need for reforestation and the complications the communities face in following through with that need. Onondieu gave me permission to publish his photo on internet and to share his observations.

Onondieu was clear that the mountains of Verettes desperately need tree cover for many reasons, but especially to protect and increase the water supply for the local communities. He was also elegant in explaining some of the complications. Onondieu pointed out that because the area is remote and the road is so bad, trees grown in nurseries at lower elevations suffer too much by the time the reach the area around Remonsaint. That means that local tree nurseries are needed to produce trees that don't need to be transported long distances, and are better adapted to local conditions. But in an environmental catch-22, the lack of water during the dry season makes it impossible to establish a viable tree nursery during the dry months, which is when they have to be produced in order to plant them out during the rainy season. Onondieu noted that of course the area could produce trees during the rainy season, but said, " If we grow them during the rainy season, what will be the use of planting them out during the dry season? They will just die." He also noted that there are organizations that often come in and give away trees to local farmers, but they rarely come back to find out if the trees were planted, or if they survived.

Inside the cap. The bamboo is holding up the form until the cement dries thoroughly. Once the main part of the cap is formed, the workers will remove the bamboo and fill in this space.

At this point, at the end of March, the spring was providing very little water. As it begins to rain in the area, some of our sources noted that fewer people would be coming to get water, which would give the spring time to recharge and to fill up the cistern. However, when we calculated the size of the cistern that is being built, we found that it would hold about 22.5 m3 of water, or about 22,500 liters. At 25 liters per person per day (the minimum per person used as a standard by the United Nations, according to Susan), the cistern would provide enough water for about 900 people, less than a third of the people who may depend on it.

As we left the spring, Susan observed, "Every time I think I have found the community that is struggling with the most difficult situation in terms of water, I find people struggling with a problem that is even harder."

Blogging for Water

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on October 15, 2010 at 7:33 PM Comments comments (0)

All around the world, people are blogging about water today.  Here are some of the water facts that you may see:


Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.  Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E.coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes42,000 deaths each week.


More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet.Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water andcausing disease.


Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water.They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted.  Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking suchlong distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.


It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger.That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bunand providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking thebun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallonsof water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.


The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world.From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washingour cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective,the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.

The Zabriko Project - Trip 3

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on August 1, 2010 at 4:49 PM Comments comments (0)

I just returned from vacation after my third trip to Zabriko. 


This trip I travelled with eight others -- a fascinating woman from NY who has been doing development work for the last 30 years and the equally fascinating members of the Pacific Northwest solidarity group -- MPPs designation for the motley crew I brought with me. 


The solidarity group included a young man (and his father) from Pennsylvania who is raising money and awareness to drill a well in Cherival; two fellow UCC folks; and a group of three family members who have traveled before internationally in connection with Witness for Peace.  The father was not parenthetical for long -- as a chemist and physicist who grew up in rural China, he quickly found ways to contribute -- ideas on waste disposal, the practical ability to build a water chlorination system for demonstration to the MPP compound staff, and sharing his wisdom about rural people. Everyone had the expected opportunity to meet the people of MPP and witness the conditions of Haiti's rural poor.  But they threw themselves into the work -- problem-solving with MPPs engineering staff on failed wells and working with MPP staff in small groups to further MPPs efforts on solar assembly, composting latrines, and riparian strips.  They were wonderful (staff and group) and I've never laughed so much in 10 short days.  It was fabulous!

Looking for Water

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on August 1, 2010 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The hardest thing in Haiti is to find all of the organizations that are trying to provide clean water.  I "ran into" another one this week, operating just 40 kilometers from the center of MPPs work.  I hope MPP can establish a collaborative relationship with them.


If anyone who is not a member runs into this blog -- and is doing ANY work in Haiti -- PLEASE contact me!   The best contact is susanlsmith @ gmail.com.  Note -- spaces in e-mail.


Thanks, Susan

Spreading the Gospel of Clean Water

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on April 18, 2010 at 4:34 PM Comments comments (0)

Recently I've had a chance to meet with women from all around the Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ, including the Portland area and the mid-Willamette valley.  This week I'll be headed for Condon to meet with women from central Oregon at Condon.  Its incredibly energizing to meet these folks, with all of their varied and amazing experiences.  Then, its off to the regional Women's conference at Boise, ID.  Awesome!

Update on Work as Water Justice Intern

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on March 3, 2010 at 7:19 PM Comments comments (2)

This year I am working as an intern for the Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ as an intern.  My work serves the Wider Church Ministry team and the Justice & Witness team of the Conference and focuses on water justice issues.

 

Since September,  I have done slideshow presentations on the Zabriko project at Sumpter Elementary 5th Grade, JGEMS 7th grade class, the Fall Gathering in Beaverton, Zion UCC, The Dalles UCC, the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium on environmental governance in Wuhan, China, Washougal Methodist, 1st Congregational Salem, Bethel Congregational, West High School World Literature class, West Salem High School students for change, JGEMS Parent Teacher Committee, and a Willamette University Faculty Colloquium,  I am scheduled to do a presentation at 1st Congregational Vancouver, Hillsdale UCC, the CPC Women's Cluster Meeting at Condon, and the CPC Women's Group Board meeting in Boise, ID .

 

I have also preached at Zion UCC, The Dalles UCC, twice at Washougal Methodist, 1st Congregational Salem, and Bethel Congregational.  I am scheduled to preach at Hillsdale UCC.

 

Its been busy!!!

 

CWS on sand dams in Kenya

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on June 28, 2009 at 12:47 AM Comments comments (13)

Kenya


--"We are so happy about the dam," says Jenifer, a young mother in Akiriamet, the Pokot District, where a sand dam has been constructed with the help of Church World Service and local partner Yang?at. "Before, the adults would go for days without bathing," Jenifer adds. "Now we can use a whole five liters (about 1 1/3 gallons) to bathe. The water is so close we can keep chickens and do laundry. Also, if people travel by and ask for water, now we can give them a drink and be generous."


"To you this project may seem simple," she says,"but to us it has changed the way we do things dramatically."


The majority of Pokot tribespeople are semi-nomadic pastoralists, dependent on water and pasture for their animals. Availability of water is the difference between wealth and ruin, life or death.


During droughts, the search for water and pasture has historically led to conflicts. The Yang'at-guided sand dam projects in West Pokot are designed to prevent those problems by creating a source of good water closer to home.


The Akiriamet sand dam is the sixth sub-surface dam that Church World Service and Yang'at have completed in the region, in addition to a similar project across the border in Uganda.


Sub-surface sand dams are a simple but effective water solution for arid or semi-arid areas. A concrete and masonry dam is built across a seasonal stream and extended under the surface of the bed where it slows the flow of the water and collects sand against the upstream side. The slow moving water sinks into the sand deposits, which act as a natural filter and reservoir. During the dry season when the water ceases to flow, shallow wells are dug in the sand to draw out the stored water. A sand dam can provide clean water for a thousand or more people, as well as for livestock and gardens.

 


Peasant Movement of Papay

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on May 5, 2009 at 3:09 PM Comments comments (11)

Recent blog posting http://aefpix.blogspot.com/ regarding 1st Congregational UCC Salem's partner in Haiti: the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP)


5 March 2009

Positively Green:

Haiti


Yes Haiti.

The Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP) or Peasant Movement of Papay is the oldest and largest cooperative movement  in Haiti. With 60,000 members , the 35 year-old collective is situated inthe central plateau. The mission of MPP is to educate and provide soundeconomic alternatives to the people of Haiti, while promotingenvironmental, sustainable, and renewable agriculture and genderequality. No individuals may join MPP only collectives.


Here, Kopa BwaFerye is a 50 acre sugar cane cooperative formed by former Haitians who labored in the bateys in the Dominican Republic. Pooling their land resources, the cooperative model empowered the former farmers in servitude by offering them an economic model based on cooperation as means to self-reliance. Sugar cane ispressed for syrup while its by-products are used for heating and fuelfor animals.




Stiffer portions are used to stoke the cooking fire, while the animals eat the pulp as they provide the energy for the press.


Agronomist Chavannes Jean-Baptiste is the founder of MPP. In 2005, he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in sustainable agriculture. Despite the changing political climate, deforestation and violence, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste and MPP have championed the cause in providing economic self reliance while promoting renewable and sustainable agriculture.





Madame Frederic is one of three women who form the KOPA Mache Lakay, or the home market cooperative. Peanuts are double roasted, ground, then jarred and sold to markets in their region.


Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The deforestation of this island nation has resulted in numerous hazardous environmental repercussions vital to the survival of it's inhabitants. It is the through the vision of individuals like Chavannes Jean-Baptiste that solutions to our global environmental crisis depends.

 



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