With funds provided by Just a Drop’s ‘Just Help Haiti’ appeal, we were able to support a number of local NGO partners in the reconstruction of schools that were damaged during the earthquake and deemed to be unsafe for use. Just a Drop supplied the schools with a reliable clean water source through rainwater collection as well as hygienic sanitation facilities.
One of the schools that benefitted from Just a Drop’s support is the DeMichel Ecole-mixte Boisrond-Tonnerre, which has a capacity for up to 100 kindergarten and primary school students and was significantly damaged in the earthquake.
Prior to the work being carried out water at the school was supplied either from a neighbouring river, which was highly polluted due to upstream settlements, or by bottled water which had to be purchased from the local water kiosk and which was proving to be an unaffordable long-term source of water for the school. In addition the roof and the existing latrine structure were in a desperate state of disrepair.
Just a Drop encountered several constraints in the project, amongst which was the limited on-site space for a water storage tank, as well as the unreliability of the local groundwater. A solution was found to build a below-ground storage tank to capture rainfall for storage and onward distribution to necessary water points within the school. The advantage of this solution is that this has allowed for a much greater capacity for water storage and was combined with a solar pump solution which greatly increased the autonomy of the school. This solution was facilitated by the concurrent replacement of the roof structure and installation of roof gutters by the local partners, and therefore benefitted from going hand-in-hand with the rest of the building work.
New latrines and a large sink for hand washing were also built and an education and hygiene programme was implemented which is essential to the effectiveness of the facilities. The school also implemented a sustainability plan in conjunction with local partners to ensure that these facilities remain operational and will be enjoyed by many more children in the years to come.
The trust that had been built up between the local partners during this school reconstruction will allow Just a Drop to undertake further school rebuilding projects in Haiti. Working with local partners also ensures the long term sustainability and ongoing maintenance of the water and sanitation installations and is core to how Just a Drop operates in Haiti.
The children from the neighbourhood often come to the school to watch the construction works from a safe distance. One of them is ten year old Christlene who lives near the school in Demichel with her mother, 3 brothers and her younger sister. She has been going to the school for the past 2 years and is going to take her year 6th exams next year.
“I am very happy about the school; the teachers do a good job and both my brothers who went to the school before have passed their 6th grade exams.”
However going to the school presented many challenges with a leaky roof and a lack of clean water and sanitation. Christlene explains: “When it was raining we all had to huddle together in a small corner of the school where it was not leaking.”
Christlene is looking forward to the new school year and is happy with all the changes at the school. “The new roof looks very nice. I am so happy that next year we won’t have to worry about the rain anymore!”
Instead the rain will help her as the rain water harvesting tank installed by Just a Drop will transform rain into clean water.
The children at the school have learned that they can prevent cholera by washing their hands after they go to the bathroom and before they eat, but last year there was no water supply at the school to do so. Christlene is very excited that next year she will have water at the school to wash her hands so she can stay healthy.