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Feb-24-2010 03:37printcommentsVideo

Haiti and Sanitation in the Wake of a Disaster

UNICEF estimates that 1.1 million displaced people require emergency latrines as sanitation remains one of the most urgent concerns in post-earthquake Haiti.

Haiti Refugees
Photo/Video courtesy: UNICEF

(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) - Sanitation is among the most urgent concerns in Haiti following the earthquake. UNICEF estimates that 1.1 million displaced people require emergency latrines.

In the short term, UNICEF and other organizations plan to install nearly 13,000 latrines by April, and another 21,000 within six months.

To help achieve this goal, UNICEF has enlisted its partner, the ‘Haitian Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative’ (IDEJEN) to construct 1,000 sanitary blocks, which include latrines, showers and hand-washing facilities.

Guerda Previlon is with IDEJEN: "What you are seeing here is a sanitary block made by IDEJEN youth. You can see them in the back. So those are the ones who built it with the help of the engineer. The engineer back there. So in this sanitary block we have three units (latrines). You see? So this is made by the youth. And you use this cover to make it more comfortable for the users. And I can open this for you. And this is the other one; so all of this is made by the youth, by the IDEJEN youth. We are going to install this sanitary block in the camps. And we have to add to the sanitary block a water point for washing hands. So they are building this now. This is the tank to put the water. This is the frame to put the tank, so we are building that."

IDEJEN was launched here seven years ago to provide an education and job training for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. IDEJEN's Guerda Previlon recently showed the new sanitary blocks being constructed.

Guerda Previlon, IDEJEN: "And we need to build also the shower. And then we'll take care of everything, in terms of management of the sanitary block, in terms of management of the excreta and in terms of evacuation of used water. In terms of education on hygiene and sanitation on the level of the camp."

IDEJEN is enlisting the help of 1,200 young people to build the sanitary blocks, including 22-year-old Fidel Frantzy.

Fidel Frantzy with IDEJEN says it is important: "I know that people need this service. This is a rewarding project for me because we are helping people who urgently need toilets. You know, it's not the only sanitation project we're working on. We have a team of youth that clean the streets around the camps, too. I'm so proud to be a part of this effort in Haiti – to help other young people, and the community."

IDEJEN says it will install the first sanitary block in a camp within the next week, and the units have a long expected life span.

Guerda Previlon, IDEJEN: "It can last for at least two years. Using it now for the camp, and using it after for activities for longer term."

Guerda Previlon, IDEJEN: "UNICEF provided the financial support to build that, and also they will provide some training in terms of our education and hygiene and sanitation."

Guerda Previlon, IDEJEN: "We are so proud to come with this product. It is new in Haiti and it is made by the youth. Because the community thinks that the youth in difficult situations cannot do anything. Now we want to show they have the capacity, that they have the skills to do a good thing that can be in the service of the community."

As the rainy season draws near, and the rush to install latrines continues, the work of IDEJEN is helping close the gap of those in desperate need of latrines.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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