New Sanitation Campaign Aims to End Cholera in Haiti


UNICEF and Haitian Government Fight Against Cholera

UNICEF and the Haitian government have intensified the fight against cholera, with the launch this week of the National Sanitation Campaign, aiming to eliminate open defecation in the country.

The National Sanitation Campaign will target 55 communities in the 10 departments, covering 3.8 million people, 2,500 schools and 500 health centres.

“Until every household has access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, cholera and other water-borne diseases will remain a potential threat to vulnerable families throughout the country,” said Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. “We count on the support of the UN and that of international partners to make this a reality.”

The "Community-Led Total Sanitation" (CLTS) approach encourages behaviour change and leadership at community level. It has already been used successfully in three departments. The CLTS programme, allied with the provision of clean drinking water, the use of safe sanitation infrastructure and good hygiene practices, can halt the spread of cholera.

Less than one family in two has access to an improved water source in rural areas of Haiti, compared with 77 per cent in urban areas. Only one in four families has access to an improved latrine in the rural areas. This environment increases the risks of cholera and diarrheal diseases, especially during the rainy season.

"We can only defeat diarrheal diseases – including cholera – and improve the health of families when we address the root causes of the problem and offer sustainable solutions,” said Edouard Beigbeder, the UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “That is why this campaign is of paramount importance, and the beginning of a new chapter in this common struggle."

UNICEF and the Government's plan will combine community outreach with infrastructure building. Among major donors are the Government of Canada which will contribute US$11 million over the coming three years to fight cholera and reduce infant mortality, and the Government of Japan/Japanese Agency for International Cooperation (JICA) which donated US$2.5 million for 2014 – 2015.

UNICEF’s current programme will provide functional water points in communities at risk and appropriate toilets for up to 90 per cent of the population in areas in which cholera is rife. The programme aims to stop the spread of cholera and cut the incidence of diarrhoea by half within the next two years.

The programme is building on the success seen in the past year. Already deaths and illness from cholera are down by 75 per cent in the first half of 2014 compared to the first quarter of 2013.

Source: UNICEF

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