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One Million Litres of Drinkable Water for Haiti

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The French Water Purification Team in Haiti has just recently reached the production of its one millionth litre of drinkable water. © Tina Petterson

A month ago on 4 October, hurricane Matthew hit the south west of the Haitian peninsula, leaving behind a shocking trail of destruction. More than 500 people lost their lives and, according to World Bank estimates, the hurricane wrought almost EUR 1.8 billion worth of damage to Haiti's infrastructure. Shortly after Matthew's landfall, Haiti activated the EU Civil protection mechanism welcoming international assistance. Since 7 October, two EU Civil Protection teams consisting of a total of 14 experts have been deployed to Haiti to facilitate the coordination of incoming assistance from the EU.

French Water Purification Team & European Union Civil Protection Team, Haiti

In a situation where most natural water sources became contaminated by stormwater and sewage overflow, the supply of potable water was - and still is - an urgent priority.

As part of the emergency aid sent to the Haitian people, a French water purification facility from the European Emergency Response Capacity (Voluntary Pool) was dispatched. The facility was manned by 60 rescue workers from the French Formations Militaires – Securite Civile (Civil Protection Military Corps). This team, with their commander Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Foisel at the helm, managed to quickly settle themselves under extremely rugged conditions in Jérémie, the southern town at the heart of the crisis zone.

The production of drinkable water was successfully launched in cooperation with UNICEF, various NGOs and the Haitian authorities. Travelling on roads rendered dangerous by the rain, each and every organisation has been working arduously to achieve the goal of the mission, namely to make sure that people are provided with clean water, also in order to halt the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera.

Thanks to the constant effort and hard work in a difficult environment, the French Water Purification Team in Haiti has just recently reached the production of its one millionth litre of drinkable water.

To reach this symbolic stage of “a million” is of considerable importance for the team and makes them proud of having vested all their knowledge into helping those who are less fortunate and for whom assistance is not easily provided.

This “miracle” of producing clear water is, in fact, not a miracle but rather the culmination of years of training and a commitment to achieving the main goal of supplying fresh drinking water to people living in disaster-hit areas. For the Haitian people, this expertise and dedication couldn't be timelier.

The real miracle is found in the expression in people’s eyes during the distribution process and as they quench their thirst.