The World Bank says its Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$80 million grant for the Decentralised Sustainable and Resilient Rural Water and Sanitation Project in Haiti.
The Washington-based financial institution said this financing aims to increase access to inclusive, resilient and sustainable potable water services to 250,000 people, and access to basic sanitation services for 125,000 people, including 50 percent of women from small towns and rural communities across the country.
“Access to clean water and sanitation are essential aspects of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as they drive economic growth, support healthy communities, and are essential and fundamental for life itself. In Haiti, recent improvements in access to quality water and sanitation have stalled and, in some areas, deteriorated because of, among other things, prolonged instability, increasing violence and insufficient investment in the sector,” said Laurent Msellati, World Bank Country Manager for Haiti.
“This funding aims to support Haiti in achieving universal and equitable access to safe drinking water for all and adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, particularly in poor and remote areas,” Msellati added.
The World Bank said that rural areas and small towns’ access to basic drinking water in Haiti is low and declining. In 2020, the World Bank said only 43 per cent of the rural population in Haiti had access to at least basic drinking water, compared to 48 per cent in 2015 and 50 per cent in 1990.
“This situation is generated by a lack of investment in and maintenance of related infrastructure,” it said.
Of the 13,626 improved water source facilities recorded in 2022, the bank said only 51 per cent were working; and, out of the 1,041 piped water supply systems serving dense rural areas and small towns, only 41 percent were functional.
In 2020, the World Bank said 31 per cent of the rural population in Haiti still practiced open defecation, which could affect access to safe drinking water.
The Decentralized Sustainable and Resilient Rural Water and Sanitation Project in Haiti aims to provide immediate cholera response measures, strengthen sanitation and hygiene in cholera-affected communes and empower local authorities and communities to plan and execute water and sanitation projects, the bank said.
It said the project will finance the construction, rehabilitation and expansion of drinking water supply and sanitation systems in targeted areas and institutional strengthening activities, including the consolidation of the programmatic sector-wide results-based approach to improve sector planning, budgeting, reporting and accountability.
The World Bank said the project will contribute to the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, by increasing access to basic drinking water and sanitation services for the populations living in rural areas and small towns.
The project is aligned with the World Bank’s Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Development (GRID) approach that emphasises the cross-sectoral nature of development policies, “focusing on the interrelationships of poverty, inequality and environmental externalities”, the World Bank said.