Today, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the international community is coming together to recognize the critical role older people play in building more resilient communities by sharing their experience and knowledge.
At World Concern, we’re joining in this call to include older people in planning and preparedness activities while recognizing the value they bring to their families and communities.
Improving sanitationthrough the construction of latrines to prevent the spread of water borne disease.
Teaching communities about soil retention and reforestation to protect the land.
Developing early warning systems and evacuation plans that include people of all ages.
Strengthening infrastructure like flood water canals to keep water away from homes and people safe.
“The older person is often invisible in our communities until they show up in the mortality figures after a disaster event,” said head of the United Nations Disaster Reduction Office, Margareta Wahlström.
By working together towards the common goal of focusing on inclusiveness of people of all ages in disaster preparedness, we can ensure that no one is invisible and that everyone becomes resilient for life!
World Concern makes providing clean water to communities that lack this life-saving resource a top priority. Recently, we visited the Southeast Department of Haiti and saw the direct link between disasters and the need for clean water.
Grand Gosier is a rather isolated commune (cluster of communities), near the sea and the Dominican Republic border. One reason it is so isolated is because of the poor condition of the road that leads to it. From Jacmel, the big city in Southeast Haiti, you must travel approximately 84 kilometers east to reach Grand Gosier.
Those 84 kilometers took us over four hours.
While crawling at a snail’s pace can be exhausting, the views are stunning. This is one contrast I noticed on the trip–poor infrastructure yet stunning natural beauty.
Once we arrived in Grand Gosier, we caught up with Pierre, the coordinator for the project in this commune. He explained that the water system for the area had been damaged by a storm in 2007. Since then, those not fortunate to live close to the water source have been forced to spend a lot of time and energy walking to reach water. Even while we were visiting with Pierre, children and women walked past us carrying water. All kinds of jugs, bottles, and containers are used to transport water.
Occasionally we saw someone guiding a donkey, loaded down with water, but the majority of people were walking. It was early afternoon, and limited cloud cover meant it was a hot and dusty journey for them.
Soon, those long journeys will not be necessary. Once finished, the project will provide nine water collection points throughout the commune which will shorten the walk to water for many.
As we were listening to Pierre speak about the project, I wondered what precautions were being taken to ensure that this time the water system will be more resilient to withstand the next storm. Hurricanes and heavy storms are all too common in Southeast Haiti. Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012 are the most recent reminders of the devastation such storms can cause. Combined, these two storms killed 87 and affected 205,623 people. We cannot stop the rains and winds from coming, however we can be sure that communities are prepared as best as possible.
Pierre explained that the prior water system had used PVC for the piping, but his team is working to replace all the PVC with metal pipes. Though a seemingly small step, using metal will be a huge step towards increasing the system’s – and the community’s – resiliency.
When the repairs and construction are completed, this water system will provide clean water to people, whatever storms come their way.
You can help protect families and their resources from future disasters. Donate today.