Haiti is "Drowning in Sewage": Obama's Killing Spree
April 29, 2011 • 2:26PM

California, look at Haiti if you want to know what to expect from Barak Obama, in the event of an earthquake.

As sources on the ground in Haiti report, the country is literally "drowning in sewage." The Truttier Waste Disposal dump near the giant Cite Soleil slum in the capital of Port-au-Prince contains thousands of gallons of feces, much of them most certainly infected with cholera. In an article published April 25 in OpEdNews.com, investigative reporter Mac McKinney reported that toxic raw sewage from cholera treatment centers (CTCs) is discharged into a giant, open-air unlined holding pond in the middle of the dump, from where it can potentially leach into the aquifer underneath which is the main supplier of water to the capital. Discarded needles and syringes, bags full of vomit and excrement from the CTCs also end up in the dump.

In an article published April 24 in a Huffington Post blog, investigative reporter and Haiti relief worker Giorgianne Nienaber pointed out that the Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster, known as WASH, run by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has received only 19% of its $175 mn. funding requirement for water and sanitation systems.

The absence of latrines, de-sludging activities, and safe drinking water, guarantees that cholera and other water-borne diseases will spread quickly. As the rainy season begins, medical personnel are reporting a wave of new cholera cases. While the overall mortality rate officially stands at 1.7%, it is 7.9% in the rural department of Sud Est, and 5.4% in Grande Anse.

It costs $1 mn. to run a 200-bed Cholera treatment center for three months, including 45 nurses, 80 support staff, and nine doctors. The overall cholera appeal is only 45% funded. Nienaber underscores the irony that "some of the same agencies that have created a comprehensive document on Haiti's needs, have packed up their tents, banners and personnel. They say they will return when the money flows along with the increasing disease numbers."

New temporary shelters do not include sanitation infrastructure. People continue to defecate into plastic bags, or on the ground or in streams. In rural areas, there is a dangerous shortage of water purification tablets. In the village of Chinchion, where Nienaber visited, residents were often travelling miles to market to buy bleach for water purification. Other villages were paying for the tablets on the black market.

The UN's Shelter Cluster reported that as of April 7, 7.4% of the 56,107 temporary shelters, in which 235,649 people lived, received no WASH services. Nienaber reports that an estimated 42% of an additional 116,000 temporary shelters scheduled to be built this year, will not receive any sanitation and water services either. OCHA reports that residents of temporary shelters in Leogane, Port-au-Prince and Croix des Bouquets are the most severely affected by the lack of access to water and sanitation services. Carrefour, which has a high number of cholera cases, is particularly vulnerable.

The emergency response manual of the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommends the installation of one latrine per family, set at a maximum distance of 100 meters from a shelter to a water point, plus two garbage containers per community of 80 to 100 people. But 16 months after the 2010 earthquake, the UNHCR'S recommended measures aren't even close to being implemented.