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Promoting Better Sanitation and Waste Management for Healthier Communities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Published 08/16/2016 by Global Communities

A march to promote clean neighborhoods and the start of the awareness campaign against waste.

Promoting Better Sanitation and Waste Management for Healthier Communities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Christ-Roi, Cité Choune, and Ravine Pintade are three neighborhoods straddling the Nicolas Ravine, located in the heart of Port-Au-Prince, suffering from poor WASH and waste management practices. Trash, organic material, plastic, rubble and raw sewage densely litter the ravine, roads and walkways in these neighborhoods where sewage systems and waste management infrastructure are lacking. Education programs on environmental matters have been ineffective and inconsistent. Toilets drain into the street and waste blocks drains preventing the flow of water leading to stagnant, dirty conditions which increases the risk for diseases caused by poor sanitation.

To combat these issues and help the residents live cleaner and healthier lives, Global Communities, with funding from US- AID/OFDA through the Reducing Vulnerabilities and Impacts in Neighborhood Emergencies (RAVINE) program launched an awareness campaign in the three neighborhoods along the Nicolas Ravine. “Ann Kenbe Katye nou Pwop, nou toutse Kolibri” which means “Keep our neighborhoods clean, we are all hummingbirds” was the slogan used during this campaign that lasted nearly three months. The slogan comes a Haitian fable about a forest fire that came to destroy the environment. While the fire was blazing, the smallest animal of all – the humming bird – began carrying water in its beak to extinguish the flames. An elephant saw the small bird’s efforts and decided that if such a small bird could work towards extinguishing a large forest fire, then he too could make an effort to protect his home. There is also a well-known folk song which accompanies the story. Both the fable and the song represent the idea that small efforts towards improving the environment by individuals, can have great impact when combined with the efforts of others.

James Albert and Nahomie Denis were two of 40 residents trained as Environmental Promoters to help spread messages on how to improve sanitation and waste management practices to communities along Nicolas Ravine.
“I was going door-to-door meeting on average 100 people a day as part of the outreach. Today, I can say I am happy and proud to have participated in such an initiative that was very well received by the population.”—James Albert
“This is a good project for the community and the activities allowed me to obtain key information about WASH and solid waste sanitary practices.”
—Nahomie Denis

Thousands of citizens within the target communities were reached through this awareness campaign. The campaign used the lyrics of the song and the message of the fable to rally residents around a com- mon cause. This included recruiting a Haitian RaRa band from the community to play the song while parading through the neighborhoods. Today, if you were to sing this song in the targeted neighborhoods, community members would join in. Under the campaign, 30 community-based organization (CBOs) received capacity building training and 40 young men and women were trained in environmental advocacy.

James Albert, an Anthropology graduate from State University of Haiti, lives in Christ-Roi. He received training in WASH and waste management practices and actively participated in spreading awareness to his neighbors on what he learned.

Albert, along with Nahomie Denis, a mother of six, who also participated in training and raising awareness are passionate about helping their communities achieve environmental success. Albert explained that as a result of the awareness campaign, residents living in the vulnerable areas have now recognized the dangers of disposing of raw sewage and trash in the ravine and have begun changing their behavior. He expressed hope that the community leaders will take steps to ensure the longevity of the campaign.

Popular communication materials were developed such as t-shirts with the cam- paign logo and slogan and a music truck. The campaign included various activities including a community-wide parade, education days focusing on waste recycling and a soccer tournament where the trophies for the winning team were made of recycled materials.
These activities were conducted by Global Communities-Haiti in partnership with Solidarités International (working in conjunction with the Haitian WASH authority DINEPA), the Haitian solid waste management authority SMCRS and various grassroots organizations in Christ-Roi, Cite Choune and Ravine Pintade.