Providing potable water to mountain school in Haiti

©2010 Carlos Vasquez
Victor and Father Louis, Montagne Jaquot-Merlin, Haiti.

By Carlos Vasquez

23 Feb 2010 – Victor Vincent Kinyanjui, from Kenya and WASH specialist for UNICEF Sierra Leone, and I set out early in morning to visit a rural school on top of mountain Jaquot-Merlin. The school is run by Father Louis Marrie from France. In order to get there we had to cross a dry river that shows clear signs of bank erosion due to heavy water flow during the rainy season.

Far away you can also see landslides manifested as white scars on the side of the mountains. The road up to the school was handmade by the local village to allow World Food Programme trucks to deliver much needed food supplies. After the earthquake the local community saw an increase of 20% of people over all. So far UNICEF has provided this village one tent for the school and one for the medical facilities. Both tents were delivered by helicopters three mountains away. Father Louis told us how difficult it was to get the pilots to drop the tents in the right place and the difficulties they had carrying the tents back to the community.

Once at the site we quickly drew a schematic site plan on the ground to locate 2 more tents, toilets and a water point. The wind movement and sun orientation were considered to make these decisions. We noticed the presence of what looked like volcanic rocks or lava in substantial quantities.

After exploring two separate fresh water springs, we decided to select the second water source down the hill, to make our proposal for the water collection system and transport of water up to the school premises. The main issue that Victor stressed was the need to 1) establish a community water committee and 2) encourage behavioral change for the consumption and management of water. We also stressed the need to implement a hygiene program through the school.

The water spring serves approximately 10 families with around 60 people total. The school population will be roughly 480 students in double shift system.

Main agreement to provide water to the school has the following components:

  • Do not disturb the natural flow of the spring
  • Build reservoir (3 cement bags of 50lbs) at source of water spring location
  • Install walls and roof to capture the water; rough calculation shows 10lt of water/minute. Water level never to be higher than spring source
  • Spring will provide 7,000 lt of water over night (12 hrs)
  • Provide 4” PVC pipe below water source to water tank and 1” overflow pipe also below the level of the spring source
  • 4” pipe to follow contour of hill to lower flat area to connect to two interconnected water 5,000 tanks
  • 1 tank for the school, 1 tank for the community
  • Provide solar pump to move water from tanks to school over the hill
  • Provide third tank at school site with taps for hand washing and drinking water, close to latrines
  • Solar panel and switch to be located at school site
  • Community to provide 2 extra tanks to collect rain water
  • Community to establish a “water committee” to manage water

UNICEF will provide all the materials and technical drawings. Father Louis will mobilize the community for both the construction and water committee group.

Carlos Vasquez
UNICEF, Education Section

Related link: Ask the Architect

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