Sanitation: A New Crisis

In the aftermath of last month’s massive earthquake, Haiti is facing a mounting new crisis: poor sanitation. With thousands of citizens living in tent cities in destroyed Port-au-Prince, sewage is rapidly accumulating and causing officials to warn of possible disease outbreaks, such as cholera. “We’re witnessing the setup for the spread of severe diarrheal illnesses in a place where the health system has collapsed and without a functioning sewage system to begin with,” said a medical officer working in the area. Considered by some to be Port-au-Prince’s biggest health threat, one aid group distributed over 10,000 latrines (“a drop in the ocean of what’s needed,” according to a Red Cross spokeswoman), and Brazilian NGO Viva Rio has launched a project to turn the waste into bio-gas to be used as fuel. “This crisis can trigger innovation for Haiti, allowing us to move beyond the desperation you see now,” said the project’s director.