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#194444 - 01/28/10 02:01 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: Blast]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
Blast we can only hope it is not contaminating their drinking water. But that is a very likely possibility. Let's hope our friends and loved ones who are over there don't run out of purified drinking water. frown And let's hope that the Haitians don't end up with even bigger problems after it is all said and done (like no non-contaminated drinking water). I think everyone will agree they've suffered enough already. But the totality of the relief effort there will likely go on long after the injuries have been treated and the debris has been cleaned up.
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

#194445 - 01/28/10 02:05 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: Mark_F]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
It was before the earthquake, I can't imagine it would get better afterwards. Cholera was already an issue in Haiti.

If the relief effort is limited to restoring Haiti to what it was prior to the quake, then we won't have done much to help them. We need to be in it for a pound this time. Unfortunately, I am not sure the American will is durable enough today to sustain the effort long enough to make a permanent difference.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#194451 - 01/28/10 03:23 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: benjammin]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
I know the Red Cross is heavy into the water purification effort - I can't recall the exact stats, but I think the initial commitment was clean water for 200,000 people (27 settlements). The US military and UN have even greater commitments.

Without a plan its status quo for Port au Prince, London at the turn of the 18th century - crapping in pails, dumped into the surface sewer gutter in the center of streets, running to gulleys and eventually the sea. With a sewer plan, you can lay lines to sewage treatment plants during reconstruction, train Haitians as engineers, and enter the 20th century if not the 21st. Primary sewage treatment is among the least expensive upgrades available to emerging nations - and with better than 50% of structures partially or totally demolished, running sewer lines to new construction is a no brainer. Assuming the Haitians have a plan. They'll need some engineers on loan for that, which shouldn't be too difficult from the US, Japan, EU etc etc.

Anyway, some part of Port au Prince will be rebuilt this way, and the part that is not will eventaully go the way that alot of older European construction did once central plumbing came on the scene - tear down (again) and rebuild (again). A house without plumbing can't compete with houses up the street that have it.

#194453 - 01/28/10 03:53 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: Lono]
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
A key to a potential successful rebuild will have to be the basic economy. If Haiti is unable to export some useful products to the rest of the world, their economy will remain in chaos. Upgrading the quality of life for the Haitian people will never come about, unless there is some mechanism for importing fresh and sustainable capital. Building homes and a supporting sanitation infrastructure is useless, unless the people can afford to purchase said home, which requires short and long-term employment.

Having spent time in Ecuador another very poor country, improving the lives of the rural community is very very difficult. Ecuador has many advantages over Haiti since it does have significant export, tourism and a growing middle class, but even with all of those advantages, the poor remain poor and the infrastructure in most rural communities is declining. The challenges Haiti faces are very complex and will not be cured by a superficial “makeover”, it will require a fundamental changes in their society and to be successful will take much time and careful planning.

My 2 cents-

#194462 - 01/28/10 06:21 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: Blast]
James_Van_Artsdalen Offline

Registered: 09/13/07
Posts: 449
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Blast

-Blast, stocking up on more soap and some rubber boots...

Don't forget water purification tablets!

Even in areas where the ground-water still seems reliable so many refugees can be a problem. You really need experienced teams to look at where the well is, where the refugees go - and where the refugees "go" - to make sure there is no contamination now, in the next heavy rain, and in the next hurricane. It's easy for relief efforts to poison surviving groundwater, and it's happened before.

(the Bangladesh arsenic disaster is different, but is another example showing that above all else, existing clean water must be protected, and that being a well-meaning relief agency is no substitute for rigorous engineering assessment)

#194471 - 01/28/10 08:23 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: paramedicpete]
LED Offline

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: paramedicpete
A key to a potential successful rebuild will have to be the basic economy. If Haiti is unable to export some useful products to the rest of the world, their economy will remain in chaos.

I agree. I think the last time Haiti was a profitable exporter was during its time as a colonial sugar plantation. And there's no way their farmers can compete with cheap, imported US grain. Haiti is pretty much an agrarian state that doesn't seem to be set up to support large urban populations but I never hear this mentioned. No one ever asks what kind of economy Haiti can support on its own. Maybe cause the answers aren't what people want to hear.

#194494 - 01/29/10 12:22 AM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: LED]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
I agree with ParamedicPete's observation, I didn't meant to treat the sewage issue in isolation or before economic development - some one asked where the people were crapping and pissing, my point was absent a change in urban development patterns they'll crap where they always have, and it will end up where it always goes.

#194558 - 01/29/10 04:46 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: Lono]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Sadr City was pretty much in the same state when I got there. Raw sewage running curb to curb down some streets. It took us 4 months to get just two lines back up and running. Then they wouldn't let us back in there to finish the rest. All that raw sewage just ran into the Tigris unprocessed.

Poverty and corruption are the same wherever you go.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#194572 - 01/29/10 07:47 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: benjammin]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
As for drinking water, Haiti averages 54" of rainfall per year, with a usual minimum of a little over an inch in the two driest months. Rainwater collection is the cheapest and cleanest drinking water available anywhere, and doesn't need treatment if it isn't contaminated after it lands. If they aren't using it as a source of drinking water, they should be.

A 20x20' hut with a cheap coated steel roof (~$400 retail) and some rain barrels ($50 each, retail) would be a relatively cheap way to provide drinking water for a family. Every inch of rain would provide about 250 gallons of clean water.

If a 200 x 40' community shed/farmer's market were built, that would provide 8,000 sqft of rainwater collection equaling about 5,000 gallons per inch of rain. Have that water run into a relatively cheap, locally-made (with local help or volunteers) covered concrete cistern for community use.

Both typhus and cholera are mainly transmitted by contaminated water. Remove the sources and remove much of the disease.

One of my previous posts sneered at flush toilets in Haiti. I had to go to work and didn't have the time to elaborate. Flush toilets are a waste of resources, esp in places like Haiti that don't have enough clean water to drink, much less for flushing toilets.

There are other options of safe waste management that are far cheaper, and require fewer resources than flush toilets. I don't think there is any worldwide law that you MUST have multi-million-dollar waste facilities. Using 20-25% of the total water usage in a household for a flush toilet is wasteful and stupid. And if anyone thinks sewers and septic tanks are the ideal way to safely dispose of human waste, you really need to do some research and educate yourself. Every time you use a flush toilet, much of it eventually ends up in a water supply.

A woman in Africa came up with the idea of movable village outhouses: dig a hole, place the outhouse over it. When it gets nearly full, move the outhouse, fill in the top part of the hole with soil, and plant a fruit tree. Repeat. The tree uses the waste to grow fruit.

Cattails grow in Hait. Cattail marshes can be used to clean gravity-fed wastewater (solids removed first, usually), and one acre of cattails can be harvested to process methanol, to the tune of 8,000-10,000 gallons of methanol per acre. And they don't need a multi-billion dollar distillery, either. All they need is a smart farmer with some scrap metal and a welding unit. The Haitians could use locally-made alcohol for cooking and running vehicles.

There are reasonably-priced options, but it takes some common sense and some thinking. Why anyone would think flush toilets and highly-mechanized processes would work in Haiti isn't thinking very clearly. Clean water and decent waste management would solve many of Haiti's problems, and possibly even provide some jobs. Is that too much to expect?


#194576 - 01/29/10 09:09 PM Re: Haiti: Worst Case Scenario [Re: Susan]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC

Good news for Haitians, FEMA trailers may be coming....

[ I say in jest ]


Push to send FEMA trailers to Haiti stirs backlash

Bidding is under way in an online government-run auction to sell the trailers in large lots at bargain-basement prices — something the RV industry fears will reduce demand for new products. Some of the bids received so far work out to less than $500 for a trailer that would sell for about $20,000 new.

Lobbyists for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association — which includes some major manufacturers in Elkhart, Ind., among them Gulf Stream — have been talking with members of Congress, the government and disaster relief agencies to see if it would be possible to send the trailers to Haiti instead.

"This isn't really the best time for the RV industry to have very low-priced trailers put out onto the market," said the group's spokesman, Kevin Broom.

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