Water supply and sanitation in Haiti

Water supply and sanitation in Haiti

Haiti faces key challenges in the water supply and sanitation sector:Notably, access to public services is very low, their quality is inadequate and public institutions remain very weak despite foreign aid and the government's declared intent to strengthen the sector's institutions. Foreign and Haitian NGOs play an important role in the sector, especially in rural and urban slum areas.


Haiti's coverage levels in urban and rural areas are the lowest in the hemisphere for both water supply and sanitation. Sewer systems and wastewater treatment are nonexistent.

"Source": Joint Monitoring Program WHO/UNICEF( [http://www.wssinfo.org/en/welcome.html JMP] /2006). Data for [http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/HTI_wat.pdf water] and [http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/HTI_san.pdf sanitation] based on [http://www.paho.org/english/d/csu/HAIPrelReport-EMMUS-IV.pdf Enquête Mortalité, Morbidité, et Utilisation des Services] (2000).

Service quality

Coverage figures do not give an indication of service quality, which is generally quite poor. In rural areas, systems have often fallen into disrepair. They either do not provide any water service at all or provide service only to those close to the source, with those at the end of the system (“tail-enders”) remaining without water. In almost all urban areas water supply is intermittent.

History and recent developments

In 1964 the government of Francois Duvalier created CAMEP as the entity in charge of water supply in the Metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. Subsequently, in 1977 the government of his son Jean-Claude Duvalier created SNEP to be in charge of water supply in the rest of the country. Shortly afterwards a rural water and hygiene unit called POCHEP after its French acronym was created in the Ministry of Health, since SNEP was focusing on secondary towns and did not have the ability to serve rural areas.

All three entities struggled to increase coverage at the desired pace and to provide adequate levels of service quality. Nevertheless, the 1980s witnessed a certain increase of coverage as part of the International Water and Sanitation Decade, supported by numerous donors including the World Bank and the IDB as well as by numerous NGOs.

The 1990s witnessed a series of setbacks for the country and consequently for the water and sanitation sector as well. After a 1991 military coup foreign aid was suspended for three years. Aid began to flow in again after the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1994, a period which witnessed the emergence of water committees in Port-au-Prince. These community organizations sell water to slum dwellers at a small profit, which is reinvested in small-scale community infrastructure such as sports facilities or sanitary facilities. The water is bought from the utility CAMEP, for which the water committees are one of their best-paying customers.In the late 1990s aid began to dry up again, which in turn again affected the performance of the sector and condemned a large share of the population to be without adequate services. External aid picked up again after the demise of Aristide in 2004 under a transition government and the second government of Rene Preval. The external assistance is particularly focused at towns in the interior of the country and on rural areas, while the staggering problem of supplying the metropolitan area of the capital with sufficient clean water and a sewer system remains unresolved.

The Preval government is considering reforming the water sector by establishing regional service providers that would replace CAMEP and SNEP and by strengthening the government's policy and regulatory functions. In particular, the government wants to provide more orientation to the numerous NGOs that have become the main stakheolders in water supply - especially in rural areas - and intervene without much coordination. The Minister of Public Works has appointed an advisor to guide the reform process, which most likely will involve the creation of a water and sanitation directorate within the Ministry. (See "policy and regulation" below.)

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

The main public institutions in the Haitian water sector are two state-owned enterprises, each created by its own law: CAMEP ("Centrale Autonome Métropolitaine d’Eau Potable"), responsible for the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, and [http://www.snephaiti.com SNEP] ("Service National d’Eau Potable"), responsible for secondary cities and, in theory, for rural areas. There is no institutional responsibility for sanitation in Haiti, since the mandates of CAMEP and SNEP currently do not include sanitation. Both entities theoretically are under the authority of Boards including representatives of several Ministries. Since these boards have not met for more than a decade, both entities are de facto under the sole control of the Minister of Public Works, Transport and Communications (MTPTC).

Sector agencies have lost qualified and trained staff, often to NGOs and donor agencies, because of their low pay levels. Nevertheless, there are competent and motivated managers and staff in the public Haitian water sector. Unfortunately, they lack the political guidance and support as well as the financial means to be motivated and productive.

Other public entities active in the sector are FAES (Social Fund) and POCHEP, a small unit under the Ministry of Health that used to execute rural water supply and sanitation projects. Municipalities have almost no role in the sector, although they are expected to play a larger role in the future under a proposed new water law that is currently under debate in Parliament. NGOs perform a wide variety of functions in the sector and often attract the most qualified and motivated staff due to their higher salary levels. They are particularly active in rural areas, but also in small towns and urban slums.

Policy and regulation

The Ministry of Public Works (MTPTC) currently does not have a water and sanitation directorate, although its creation is foreseen. Together with the fact that the boards of the state-owned enterprises are inactive, this has led to a situation of ad-hoc interventions by the Minister in the absence of any long-term policy or performance targets. MTPTC now envisages creating a water and sanitation directorate as part of a draft framework law for the sector. The directorate would be in charge of developing a sector policy and supervising the public enterprises in the sector, among other responsibilities.

The water reform unit (URSEP) in MTPTC is the project management unit of an IDB-funded water reform project. One of URSEP’s main functions is the implementation of water and sanitation interventions in secondary cities with systems operated by SNEP. It also promotes greater autonomy for the local branches of SNEP. URSEP may be integrated into the new water and sanitation directorate of MTPTC as part of the on-going reform process.

Service provision

There are hundreds of water committees, called CAEPs ("Comités d’Aprovisionnement en Eau Potable") or simply "Comités d’Eau", in charge of water systems in rural areas and small towns. Their degree of formalization and effectiveness varies considerably. The best water committees meet regularly, closely interact with the community, regularly collect revenues, hire a plumber who performs routine repairs, have a bank account and are registered and approved by [http://www.snephaiti.com SNEP] . However, many water committees fall short of these expectations. There is no national or regional registry of water committees or water systems and, unlike in other countries, there are no associations of water committees at the municipal, departmental or national level. The Ministry of Public Works now refers to these committees officially as water and sanitation committees ("Comité d’Approvisionnement en Eau Potable et Assainissement"—CAEPA) to reflect the broader role the committees are expected to play in the future.

Tariffs, cost recovery and financing

Tariffs in Haiti are flat rates due to the absence of metering for most customers, and can vary greatly depending on location and provider. CAMEP's tariffs are much higher than those of SNEP, which in turn tends to charge more than water committees in rural areas. For SNEP, tariffs are determined roughly based on ability to pay, and vary depending on the region. Rates range from about the equivalent of $1 per month in the central plateau to roughly $7.30 per month in Kenscoff near the capital.

While only a small portion of CAMEP's customers are metered, it does meter the water committees in the informal settlements in Port-au-Prince as well as its industrial customers. Many private citizens and some major consumers, such as luxury hotels, have disconnected from the public network and receive all their water via tanker trucks.

The revenues for CAMEP and SNEP barely cover operating costs, leaving insufficient resources for maintenance and no resources to self-finance investments. This problem is also evident in the myriad of community- and privately- operated smaller systems throughout the country. CAMEP often relies on water cutoffs to enforce payments, partly because payments cannot be enforced through the legal system. However, many customers reconnect illegally. SNEP's central office receives some support from the Ministry of Finance to cover part of its personnel costs and a portion of the revenues of its regional offices, but its budget remains inadequate to allow it to function effectively.

External cooperation

Almost all investments are financed through grants and credits by foreign donors (chiefly the IDB, the World Bank, USAID and the European Union), as well as by grants from NGOs. Many NGOs also receive resources from donors either directly or indirectly through the Haitian government. Some nonprofits, such as [http://www.haitiwater.org International Action] , finance their activities through both individual contributions and grants.

For a more complete list of donors and NGOs active in the Haitian water sector and a description of their work see the French version of this article.

World Bank

* [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P089839: Haiti Rural Water and Sanitation Project]


External links

* [http://www.mtptc.gouv.ht/defis/epa.php Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications - Water Supply and Sanitation]
* [http://www.snephaiti.com SNEP] .
* [http://www.ursep.org/ URSEP]
* [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?Projectid=P089839&Type=Overview&theSitePK=40941&pagePK=64283627&menuPK=64282134&piPK=64290415 World Bank]
* [http://www.iadb.org/news/articledetail.cfm?language=english&artid=3307&arttype=pr IDB]
* [http://www.haitiwater.org International Action: Fighting the Water Crisis in Haiti]

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