On 12 January 2010, the Caribbean state of Haiti was struck by a severe earthquake which destroyed 80% of the buildings in Port-au-Prince, the capital and the area to its west. Over 200,000 people lost their lives in the rubble. The "arche noVa e.V." aid agency, which belongs to the “Aktion Deutschland Hilft” (ADH) relief coalition, sent six workers and two drinking water treatment units to the disaster area in the immediate aftermath to provide emergency aid and, above all, establish a supply of clean drinking water.
The Munich Re Foundation and Munich Re are jointly sponsoring the arche noVa project. Many of Munich Re employees gave donations to support the project. arche noVa has been engaged in relief work in the town of Leogane (134,000 inhabitants, 35 kilometres southwest of Port-au-Prince) since mid-January. Its engineers have installed a reverse osmosis water purification system to supply 5,000 litres of fresh drinking water a day to a field hospital and a neighbouring refugee camp. The arche noVa team is also equipping the hospital with sanitary facilities. A well has now been sunk and pipes laid to ensure patients, doctors and refugees have a long-term supply of water.
The second drinking water plant was installed at Carrefour, which is close to Port-au-Prince and, with its 500,000 inhabitants, Haiti’s second largest city. Carrefour’s shanty towns, child labour and high crime levels meant it was a no-go area even before the earthquake. It is difficult to ensure aid finds a way through with the narrow streets and dirt tracks. The inhabitants for days were in urgent need of clean drinking water, which arche noVa was able to supply with our help.
Stage II of the project is focusing on Petit-Goâve, situated on the coast, some 60 km west of Port-au-Prince, and close to the epicentres of the earthquakes that destroyed much of the town and surrounding rural communities. The tremors were so strong that the beach literally subsided in many places. arche noVa and its ADH partners have prepared a comprehensive supply programme for Petit-Goâve. The agency installed two purification units in the suburb of Petit-Guinée, supplying water to over 4,000 people. The water is drawn from a small rivulet of dirty water.
The water distribution point has quickly established itself as a social meeting place. Further measures have been introduced to improve people’s living conditions including giving courses on hygiene practices and distributing hygiene products. The relief work aims to provide clean drinking water and foster a responsible attitude to one of life’s key necessities. Aid donated by the Munich Re Foundation and Munich Re will ensure an efficient supply of water is available in the long term.