CARICOM Supports IOM to Rebuild Public Health Facilities in Cite Soleil
Cité Soleil is rebranding itself and turning its back on an
ill-deserved reputation as a "no-go" area in Haiti. It's happening
because the impoverished community took its destiny in hand.
Volunteer labor crews now clean many of the area's garbage-strewn
It began in a small and blighted neighborhood constantly flooded
by an overflowing canal. The way local residents tell the story,
they simply grew fed up of being left to their own devices, to live
amidst garbage and dirt that floated into the community from
neighborhoods further up the hill. Local community organizers
started cleaning up the neighborhood. They did more than that. They
started a self-help a movement
First, they renamed their community La Difference - setting
their sights on a different future. That was a few years ago and
every afternoon since then, the community has stopped work in the
afternoons to clean the streets. The impact was immediate. La
Difference is held up as a model for other communities all around
target="_blank" title="">Photos of CARICOM work in Cite
Today in Cité Soleil there are many examples of similar
self help groups. They come together in a movement called Soley
Levey or Rising Sun.
The self-help initiative was noticed by CARICOM, the Caribbean
Community, which asked IOM to further support the community in its
efforts to build a healthier, cleaner neighborhood. The project
came as a response to a request from the Government of Haiti and
the water authority the Direction Nationale de l'Eau Potable et de
l'Assainissement (DINEPA). Australia funded the project through
After consultation with community groups, CARICOM agreed to fund
a public health programme centered on 25 community toilet blocks.
The objective was to create sustainable sanitation facilities that
would be maintained and run by the local community.
So far twenty community toilet blocks and hand-washing stations
have been built and handed over to the population.
Notwithstanding the willingness of community leaders to
cooperate, some areas remain a challenge to work in. This is the
reality of working in very deprived neighborhoods and a lengthy
process of consultation remains necessary to ensure that the
community does its part in digging the pits, preparing the area for
construction and other preparation.
"It is best to ensure that the community is well organized and
behind the project or it is unlikely that it will maintain the
toilets after construction," says IOM's project manager Nicole
The community toilet blocks are also equipped with solid waste
collection points and free collection has been negotiated with a
private company until end of 2012. Community-based organizations
are meanwhile advocating for paid household collection services in
With CARICOM endorsement, IOM has also organized for waste
removal from Cité Soleil with community assistance. Locals
make the effort to load garbage into skips so that the neighborhood
In addition community leaders sensitize their neighbors on a
daily basis to positive hygiene practices, such as washing hands
and treating drinking water. Over 14,000 people have now been be
sensitized in neighborhoods and schools of Cité Soleil.
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