Haiti, Gonaives: water a costly commodity in storm-ravaged city

Six months after devastating hurricanes and storms descended on Haiti, drinking water remains a rare and precious commodity in the northern city of Gonaives.

Mudslides [in 2008] buried the city under 2.6 million tonnes of mud and completely destroyed the already crumbling national drinking water network (Snep) which operates via water-selling stands and private wells. With some unable to pay for their vital water needs, the population relies instead on tankers provided by NGOs or the United Nations, or is forced to drink contaminated water.

“The installations we have set up or rehabilitated supply two fifths of the city, and about 25 percent is supplied by the Snep network, which remains very fragile,” said Julien Atchade, who heads water and decontamination efforts by NGOs and the United Nations in Gonaives.


“The price [of water] has doubled since the hurricane, it’s two gourdes (5 cents). I need to come at least three times a day and sometimes I pay more than I earn and I need to use unpurified water”, [said Izma Silene, a small business owner and a mother of six].  Snep resident engineer Chedlair Saint-Just said  “the price is determined locally with stand managers,” who receive 25 percent of the revenue, with the rest going to the water service.

Read more: Isabelle Ligner, Yahoo! News, 17 Mar 2009


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