Water in Haiti

The Situation

Haiti leads the Western hemisphere in both infant and small child mortality. In 2009, nearly 60 out of every 1,000 children died at birth; 1 of every 10 children born in Haiti will die before the age of 5.

Drinking water, especially infection and malnutrition caused by malabsorption, plays a remarkably sinister role in killing small children and infants. While it is difficult to isolate a specific infection to its vector (e.g. drinking water, food contamination), historical studies in other countries clearly correlate the improvement in the water supply and the reduction of disease.

Drinking water also has a more subtle concern: human cognitive development. Some studies have shown that literacy, the key to education, correlates heavily to development. Proper nutrition, especially small child nutrition, heavily affects brain development and thus a child’s ability to learn how to read and write. Perhaps the lack of potable drinking water in Haiti has contributed to the fact that 48.8% of the Haitian population over 15 cannot read or write.