A tap to each household

A tap to each household
Rhonda Dredge

The small town of Pignon is now a household name in Haiti thanks to a water program backed by Rotary.

Everel Osias, a medical officer from the town, was in Melbourne to talk about the program at the Rotary International Convention last month, which saw Rotarians from all around the world descend on Melbourne.

His pin was visible on the world map in the House of Friendship even though Haiti is a tiny speck in the ocean.

For Pignon, with a population of 47,000, has made history on the island for being the first with 24-hour running water.

The crucial issue in the success was introducing a change to the way the infrastructure was managed, Mr Osias said.

Last December a community watch program was introduced. Before that 94 per cent of piped water was being lost to leaks and non-legal connections.

“When people vandalised the network, we called in the judge and police and they helped build a framework,” Mr Osias said.

The enterprising medical officer was helped by engineer Neil Van Dine, who first volunteered as a 23-year-old in Haiti.

Mr Van Dine said that people were tapping illegally into pipes during off periods in the delivery of water and couldn’t be detected by authorities.

 

“It’s not because the people are too poor,” he said of the theft. “People were paying more for drums of water.”

 

Now the town is delivering water cheaper by tap and they want to extend the project to other parts of Haiti.

At the centre of the project, part of a broader Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) action group, was a business plan prepared by Mr Van Dine that showed the benefits of change.

“There was a lack of structure to manage the water. How do you pay the maintenance guy? We used the business plan to drive data and transform the mindset of local water officers.”

The $300,000 project was funded by Rotary and other agencies and was one of the success stories of the International Rotary Convention.

Some 13,000 delegates from more than 100 countries converged at the Melbourne Convention and Conference Centre at South Wharf from May 27 to 31 with their stories.

The aim of the convention was to solve global problems and the delivery of clean, fresh water was uppermost in the minds of many of them.

The town of Pignon had now become a household name with a tap to every one of them.

 

Caption: Neil Van Dine and Everel Osias from Haiti at the International Rotary Convention.

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