Jessica Brooks, MESc

2013 TRI Fellow in Haiti

Climate Change Adaptation and Water Access Resiliency in Rural Haiti

In many remote, mountainous communities in Haiti, water access is limited to natural springs. While capping these springs allows them to be considered “improved,” as outlined by the Millennium Development Goals, the distance to households may still be great and local studies have shown this often does not result in safe water quality (Wampler and Sisson 2011; Patrick et al. 2012). However, given financial, technical, and infrastructural constraints, improving safe water access in these communities is limited to either capping the primary spring or building rainwater harvesting systems. This study examines the characteristics and variability of spring-water access in selected rural, mountainous communities and the ways in which rainwater harvesting systems affect household water access. Actual and perceived problems in the rainwater harvesting systems’ functionality, management, access, and water quality are documented. Systematic, random sampling of households is used to examine and analyze water safety perceptions and drinking preferences between spring water, rainwater collected at home, and “community-managed” rainwater cisterns.