Article

Wòch nan Soley: the denial of the right to water in Haiti.

Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, Washington DC, USA.
Health and Human Rights 01/2008; 10(2):67-89. DOI: 10.2307/20460104
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This article combines health and water research results, evidence from confidential documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, legal analysis, and discussion of historical context to demonstrate that actions taken by the international community through the Inter-American Development Bank are directly related to a lack of access to clean water in Haiti. The article demonstrates that these actions constitute a clear violation of Haitians' right to water under both domestic and international law. The article exposes the United States governments role in blocking the disbursal of millions of dollars in international bank loans that would have had life-saving consequences for the Haitian people. The loans were derailed in 2001 by politically-motivated interventions on behalf of the US and other members of the international community in direct violation of the Inter-American Development Bank charter. To demonstrate the impact of these interventions, the article presents data gathered in a study that employed human rights and public health methodologies to assess the right to water in Haiti. The data reveal that Haitians experience obstacles concerning every aspect of the right to water: diffculties with water availability, limited physical and economic accessibility, and poor water quality. The article provides a framework of concrete duties and obligations that should be followed by all actors involved in Haiti in order to realize Haitians' human right to water. In response to the undeniable link between the international community's political interference and the intolerably poor state of potable water in Haiti, the article concludes with a recommendation that all actors in Haiti follow a rights-based approach to the development and implementation of water projects in Haiti. The full report of Wòch nan Soley: The Denial of the Right to Water in Haiti is available online at http://www.pih.org/inforesources/Reports/Hait_Report_FINAL.pdf.

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    • "The median well is subscribed to by 64 percent of its community's households, and 47 and 97 percent of households in the community subscribe to the 10th and 90th percentile wells, respectively. It is difficult to gauge how these communities compare to most rural communities in Haiti, but one recent survey estimated that only 27 percent of the population in an urban area had access to water from an improved source (Varma et al. (2009)), and the World Bank estimates this to be true of 49 percent of the population in rural areas of the country (World Bank (2010b)). "
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    ABSTRACT: The international community has pledged $11 billion to Haiti, a country where nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide nearly all public goods and services. This paper addresses two questions about these NGOs: How can they most effectively perform their own work, and how can they integrate their programs into broader efforts organized by public institutions? I evaluate the community-based model of Haiti Outreach (HO), which trains communities to manage wells after they have been constructed. The effect of this training is identified by comparing the outcomes of HO’s wells with a control group of wells that were refurbished by HO but then managed by other groups. Wells managed under the community-based approach are 8.7 percentage points more likely to be functioning after one year. I also propose a social planner’s problem to quantify the tradeoff between equity and efficiency created by user fees that may be applied to many development programs. A social planner indifferent between standard and community-based interventions has strong preferences for sporadically providing water to the poorest members of a community at the expense of sustainably providing water to the majority of community members. Policymakers deciding between alternative interventions should also give consideration to the community-based approach for its ability to build political institutions.
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