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haiti: adapting to climate change, collecting rainwater

Lack of a secure water supply makes poor communities vulnerable to changes in weather. People, particularly women and children, are obliged to spend a lot of time on the exhausting task of carrying water to where it’s needed.

haiti: adapting to climate change, collecting rainwaterLack of water for irrigation also limits the potential for farming, which becomes practically impossible in the dry season. Climate change will exacerbate these problems, as the weather becomes more unpredictable and droughts more common.


what happened?

Haiti Survie / Friends of the Earth Haiti ran a project to assist a community affected by drought, Savane Brulée, by helping them build a rainwater collection and storage system. They also trained people in farming methods appropriate for a drought-prone climate, distributed seeds and initiated composting.


The project was run with the full participation of the community. A management committee made up of five community representatives, including two women, worked with FoE Haiti throughout the process. The committee chose the locations for the cisterns and set criteria for their construction. Villagers also worked in the construction phase, fetching and carrying materials and carrying out the building work.


The initial plan for four cisterns was increased to five, meaning that more people are benefiting. The 12m3 cisterns are located near people’s homes. Corrugated metal sheets were installed on nearby roofs to catch the rain, with guttering to carry the rain from the roofs to the cisterns.


A six-day practical workshop was held, covering water management and the building of cisterns, vegetable growing and the production of organic fertilizer. It was well attended and people were very interested. Two professional trainers worked with the local people.


Composting was initiated, to provide a fertilizer for local farmers, and seeds were supplied to support farming in the dry season. These were grown in a nursery for transplanting into the fields (unfortunately several plots were affected by hurricanes).


what changed?

“The project has had a positive impact on the residents of La Biche/Savane Brulée. People no longer have to go to the trouble of transporting water from distant supply points. Thanks to the availability of water, market gardening is going to be greatly extended here.” sais Aldrin Calixte, from FoE Haiti. The cisterns have proved really useful, and immediately showed their worth during the recent hurricanes.  The community was very motivated by the project, and villagers were enthusiastic about joining in the work. Women were as involved as men in planning the project, and  especially women and children, do not have to spend so much time and effort carrying water.


what next?

FoE Haiti is working with the community to establish new plant nurseries to replace those damaged by hurricanes.


This project could be presented as a successful model of adaptation to climate change. The participative approach used in planning and executing the project was a particularly strong point, and could be a source of learning for projects in other parts of the country.


with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)


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