Oxfam in Haiti: Water arrives at Impasse Fouget

10 March, 2010 | Conflict & Emergencies
Tom Mahin working at Impasse Fouget. Credit: Kenny Rae/Oxfam
Tom Mahin working at Impasse Fouget. Credit: Kenny Rae/Oxfam

Oxfam humanitarian response specialist Kenny Rae is currently in Haiti working on the recovery effort. Here’s his latest blog from Port-au-Prince.

Six months ago, Tom Mahin’s focus was figuring out how to improve the quality of drinking water in the Massachusetts city of Gloucester, whose 30,000 residents had been told to boil their tap water before drinking it due to high levels of harmful bacteria.

Today his task, albeit on a smaller scale, is arguably more important: For the first time since the January 12 earthquake, 340 displaced families in Impasse Fouget, Port-au-Prince, have safe drinking water, thanks to Mahin and Haitian engineer Donald St. Preux. Mahin is a drinking water specialist with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and is working as an advisor to Oxfam America in Haiti.

Because of the urgent need, we chose this spontaneous camp to be the first to receive one of the 10 bladders—they look like big rubber pillows that hold about 2,900 gallons of water—that just arrived. Until now the 1,482 people in this densely populated location close to the city center were venturing out as far as a kilometer for drinking water.

Oxfam’s job is not only to provide water, but to ensure its quality, all with the participation of the people who will be drinking it.

At Impasse Fouget, our first task was to build a large platform with rubble, rocks, and earth on which the bladder could rest. A bladder like this filled with water weighs 10 tons, so the platform has to be well constructed–a task that community members took on, with no request for payment. A flexible pipe running to a set of five outdoor faucets carries the water from bladder down to where people can draw it.

Chlorinating water ensures its safety—and Oxfam works to reinforce that idea through hygiene promotion activities in the camps. When a delivery truck comes to fill the bladder, chlorine is added, a responsibility we have given to local users who have selected a water committee to carry it out. Mahin provides bottles of a one-percent chlorine solution (quite safe—household bleach is six percent) to a committee member who adds it to the bladder. An Oxfam engineer, working with the same handheld meter used by water authorities in the US, monitors the chlorine level to determine whether it’s appropriate, and can adjust the concentration if necessary.

Oxfam is working in camps of many sizes, from a few hundred people to many thousands. Our team’s focus is on 35 smaller encampments in the Delmas district. Between 200 and 2,100 people might reside in each. Working at this scale makes our community-based approach for chlorination effective.

A test of the water emerging from the tank at Impasse Fouget showed an acceptable residual chlorine level of 2 mg/liter–enough to ensure any bugs in the water would be killed, but not enough to be tasted except by the most sensitive palate.

Mahin’s with us for a couple of weeks, and by the time he returns to Boston he will have helped to bring safe water to more than12,000 people—almost half the number who live in Gloucester.

Read more

Oxfam's humanitarian response in Haiti

Map of Oxfam's response in Haiti

Comments

This is the type of life

This is the type of life affirming work I'm striving for right now.  Thank you for your hard effort and please keep us informed as to Oxfam's progress in Haiti.

Cheers from Canada,

Shawn Gagne

Go Tom!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations to Tom from his MassDEP drinking water staff!

Keep up the amazing work, Tom and Oxfam!

Clean water is so vital, and your work right now, Tom, is providing that vitality to those in extreme need.  We're so proud of all of your efforts here in MA, in Haiti, and beyond! 

Congratulation and, I await for your reply please

Congratulation to Oxfam,

I would like to start now working with Oxfam to integrate into  the special groupe.

I can do whatever the task now, and following your shedule.

I await your reply please

Thank you

OPEN LETTER TO M. KENNY RAE

Dear M. kenny Rae.

        Thank you for your reply. I inform you that I already sent my CV and copies of my diplomas and certificates as Civil Engineer, Manager, and Architect at Oxfam , Impasse Fouget Haiti since Mars 1th. I inform you that I am 20 years career . And during the earthquake of january I lost everything and I am currently unemployed. I would like to continue my career in the technical group of Oxfam, for help victims of earthquake. I've already been called by M. Vedas  March 14. He interview me March 15. He promised me to remind me to hire me to Oxfam. But so far nothing has been done. I ask you PLEASE to give a special attention to my approach. I want to integrate myself quickly in your group. I promise to devote myself entirely to the taske you give me. (drainage, fosse, water supply tank, tempory plastic shelter...)After When Oxfam will built the seismic structure for the futur building in Haiti, I will work on both simultaneously, if you wish.I count on your usual understanding to combat unemployment in Haiti.

Thanks you.

M.C.C.

long lost cousins

 Hi Kenny ,

                   well done we are so proud of you and the work you are doing ive

         been trying to contact you for ages i sent you a letter when we found out

about the birth of your son but you must have moved house as it was returned to sender then i opened the sunday post and there you were it would be fantastic if you get the time to drop me a line , hope maggie is well

                                                         love denise and roy

It is a great effort to reach

It is a great effort to reach potable water to earthquake ravaged area.  Since safe drinking water is essential to keep the people away from water borne diseases as these outbreak suddenly and soon assume calamitous proportion in such a situation where there is heavy human concentration, the work worth all the toil.  It is a good job done.

It is a note worthy effort to

It is a note worthy effort to supply safe dring water to the people of earthquake raved area.  As prevention is better than cure.  It will keep the from  water borne diseases.

After When Oxfam will built

After When Oxfam will built the seismic structure for the futur building
in Haiti, I will work on both simultaneously, if you wish.I count on
your usual understanding to combat unemployment in Haiti.

Liza

The holding of pre-disaster

The holding of pre-disaster simulations pertained to the impacts of a hurricane in Haiti. It is all too easy, to forget America's historic debt to Haiti, scene of the first successful slave revolt, which defined the destiny of Africans in the New World.
John

Chlorinating water ensures

Chlorinating water ensures its safety—and Oxfam works to reinforce that
idea through hygiene promotion activities in the camps. When a delivery
truck comes to fill the bladder, chlorine is added, a responsibility we
have given to local users who have selected a water committee to carry
it out.

Oxfam in Haiti

People can live without food for 40 days but WATER is the element that people can't live without.

That's a great work that you

That's a great work that you are carrying out...Hopefully, the world will take your example and do the same in all poor places in the world.

Szonyegek

Congratulations, very interesting article

It is a note worthy one

 Hi Kenny ,

                   Well done, we are too proud of you and the work you are done..