January 18, 2011
First it was the earthquake, almost razing Haiti to the ground. Then came the flooding, followed by the outbreak of cholera, now posing an increasing health risk for the inhabitants. Thousands have died from the outbreak and even more are infected. Many may still be saved – provided they get clean drinking water.
The inhabitants of Haiti have gone through a lot and they still suffer from the effects of the earthquake hitting the island about a year ago. 230,000 people died and today the country is still in ruins. Since October last year, a new risk is threatening the Haitians. A small outbreak of cholera has escalated and is now threatening the entire population.
- Every day there are reports of new cases of infection and death. More than 200,000 Haitians have been infected and according to some forecasts this number could increase to 400,000 before the outbreak is under control, said Patrick Haughney, Director of International Programs for Water Mission International, an American organisation working to procure clean drinking water for people in developing countries and areas of disaster. In co-operation with, among others, Grundfos, in a kind of partnership.
Taking part from the start
Only few days after the earthquake, the first SQFlex pumping stations from Grundfos were operating and more units were quickly installed in the critical days after the quake. Shortly after the Poul Due Jensen Foundation donated another 20 units and Water Mission International later on purchased a number of various pump types so today more than 30 Grundfos units are operating. Units providing clean water for up to 100,000 people, according to Mr Haughney.
- The access to clean water is decisive for the Haitian people. We know that polluted or contaminated water is one of the decisive reasons for a large number of diseases. The outbreak of cholera is an obvious example of clean water making a difference between life and death. The SQFlex pumps turned out to be very effective and reliable indeed.
The pumps are located in towns and in the country and working at full speed. They are pressed to the utmost particularly in the most remote areas, as these areas are where the water is most polluted.
- There is progress due to the quick and very important treatment of infected people in the country. In several places, however, there is still limited access to clean water, too little knowledge about cholera and insufficient amounts of medicine. In addition, it is well known that the number of infected people in the country is higher than the official numbers, said Mr Haughney.
More pumps coming
In December 2010 the latest SQFlex pump was installed and several more have already been planned, according to Water Missions International. However, in the impoverished country securing the units against robbery is a challenge. There are examples of solar panels, supplying power for the units, being stolen. A well known problem in some of the world’s poorest countries. But this does not stop the projects nor the co-operation, so Mr Haughney.
- The request for clean and safe drinking water will increase in the future as the population grows, particularly in the developing countries with limited access to clean water. So we are facing a big challenge, he said.
Facts about cholera
Cholera is an infection caused by a bacterium, transmitted through infected water. The disease causes extreme dehydration and, if the patient is not treated very soon, the disease causes death within few hours. So access to clean water is the most important prerequisite for effectively stopping the transmission of the disease.
Facts about SQFlex
The SQFlex systems comprise SQ pumps operated by solar energy. In addition, water purification system using filtration and a chlorine based disinfection feature is attached to the system. Therefore the pump systems are able to provide clean drinking water for the local population.