Friday, January 15, 2010

What It's Like in Haiti

A friend gave me a heads-up on this post. It's from here--which is a sort of 'crunchy con' blog advocating "tiny housing." Regardless of your thoughts about that, (I think it's interesting) the following will tell you a bit about what it's really like in Haiti.

A poster said “a charcoal cooking stove, charcoal is what they use” which is quite accurate, however that is the very reason there are no trees; they’ve been used to produce charcoal, leaving the soil without root systems for surface support, making slides very common and during hurricanes, a major problem. They often cook inside in rainy weather and children, in particular suffer lung damage from the fires. This is the perfect time to introduce people to using solar cookers.

The other thing is I’ve seen a couple of references to toilets and bathrooms. Unless there have been huge changes in the past few years there is no water system to support bathrooms and toilets. Even in more populated areas there is no infrastructure to support movement of water/sewage, much less an effort to treat sewage.

Two people could teach several hundred people a day, in groups, to use a bucket toilet and composting system. Two 5 gal buckets/family and a push-on seat would be the total materials outlay for the toilet system; hopefully one could find material locally for compost-pile containment. Some of the ‘trash’ (resultant from the earthquake) actually could be so used. Ideally at a later date more information could be provided on gardening (of which I saw very little except in very isolated places) and using the compost effectively, improving greatly on diets/nutrition.

As to using the bucket/compost system, it is a far cry from what most people had before, which in a preponderance of cases was to make a deposit anywhere off a beaten path, leaving excrement open to ranging dogs, children playing, etc, and creating major health, odor, and fly problems. Far better to keep it contained and treated as the resource it is.

Kinda makes MMSD look a lot better, eh?

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