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Haitians line up to collect water in a camp set up nearby the National Palace, in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.
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Water & Sanitation

Millions of Haitians Still Need Clean Water 8 Years After an Earthquake

Eight years after a massive earthquake devastated water and sanitation systems in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, millions of Haitians still struggle to find clean drinking water.

The situation is frightening in some urban areas.

For example, residents of Delmas, a community bordering Port-au-Prince, have access to only one source of clean water and have to pay 16 cents to fill up a 20-liter bucket — about the size of an office water cooler — al Jazeera reports.

But few people can afford that price.

Take Action: Urge Governments, Civil Institutions, And Businesses to Prioritize Sanitation and Hygiene

According to the World Bank, almost 60% of Haitians — 6 million people — live below the poverty line of $2.41 a day. Another quarter of the population — more than 2.5 million people — live below the extreme poverty line of $1.23 a day.

“We’d like to get drinking water. We’d like them to build a tank so we can get water because water is life. Without it we can’t live,” Marlie Blanchard told al Jazeera. “We need the state to build a bathroom. There’s no bathroom here.”

Those who can’t afford the reliable water in the neighborhood turn to untreated sources that can cause deadly diarrheal diseases.

Read More: 7 Years After a Cholera Epidemic, Haitians Are Fighting for Accountability

While the lack of clean water and sanitation has been a major problem in Haiti for years, the problem became dire in 2010 after the earthquake destroyed many of the existing sanitation systems.

The international response only made matters worse when sewage from a UN peacekeepers camp spilled into a river that was used as a source of drinking water, exposing Haiti to cholera.

The disease quickly spread through the contaminated the water supply, killing 10,000 people and making 800,000 more sick.

Read More: Matt Damon’s Powerful Super Bowl Ad Taps Into the Need for Clean Water Worldwide

Around the world, water crises threaten the lives of children and families.

About 2.3 billion people have no toilets and another 2 billion people lack access to clean water. In addition to the 2 million Haitians drinking unsafe and contaminated water, more than 750 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, 63 million people in India, and half of all children in Yemen struggle to find clean water. Contaminated water can cause deadly illnesses like typhoid and cholera.

That’s why Global Citizen campaigns on ensuring everyone has access to clean water and safe sanitation. You can take action on this issue here.

With inadequate international support, Haitians face tough decisions about where to find drinking water, attorneys representing Haitians affected by the cholera epidemic, told Global Citizen last year.

“Poverty makes people vulnerable and it’s not like people don’t know to drink clean water and wash their hands,” Nicole Phillips, an attorney for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti said. “But they don’t have soap and they don’t have access to clean water.”