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

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Participatory engineering has been called for after major catastrophes, yet is often bypassed due to countervailing implementation of ?quick fixes?. While immediate expert-driven solutions may be attractive, in the long-term they may be ineffective and inconsistent with the goals and capacities of local stakeholders. This article discusses the findings of National Science Foundation research by a team of three engineers and one social scientist who visited Haiti twice, four and seven months after the January 2010 earthquake, to investigate community participation in water and sanitation engineering processes in Léogâne. Methods included interviews with local inhabitants, water-sector actors, and government agencies; inspections of the engineering of the existing water and sanitation system; surveys of the affected population; and a participatory workshop to which numerous community-based organizations were invited. The research tests the potential for engineers to develop stakeholder-based participat
    Engineering Studies 11/2014; DOI:10.1080/19378629.2014.964250 · 0.55 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Poverty and infectious diseases interact in complex ways. Casting destitution as intractable, or epidemics that afflict the poor as accidental, erroneously exonerates us from responsibility for caring for those most in need. Adequately addressing communicable diseases requires a biosocial appreciation of the structural forces that shape disease patterns. Most health interventions in resource-poor settings could garner support based on cost/benefit ratios with appropriately lengthy time horizons to capture the return on health investments and an adequate accounting of externalities; however, such a calculus masks the suffering of inaction and risks eroding the most powerful incentive to act: redressing inequality.
    Infectious disease clinics of North America 09/2011; 25(3):611-22, ix. DOI:10.1016/j.idc.2011.05.004 · 2.31 Impact Factor