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.
Patrick, M., D. Berendes, J. Gaines, H. Williams, F. Husain, J. Murphy, and T. Handzel. 2012. Water, sanitation and hygiene baseline survey, Artibonite Department, Haiti. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA.
Wampler, P. J., A. J. Sisson. 2011. Spring flow, bacterial contamination, and water resources in rural Haiti. Environmental Earth Science, 62:1, 1619-1628.
This material is based upon work also supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. 2012150097.