PADF Fights Cholera: SME Business Development as a Model of Sustainable Solutions

This month, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) celebrates the creation of over one dozen water-treatment businesses as a way to combat cholera and provide an income to some of the poorest residents in Haiti.

“Cholera hit us hard,” Lounes Eugene explains, gesturing to the sweltering slum behind him. Wharf Jeremie, a zone of Cite Soleil built on a trash dump on the edge of Port-au-Prince, provided an ideal conduit for the illness-with limited sanitation and crowded housing, the disease leapt quickly through the slum, leaving disaster in its wake.

“We immediately called Madame Rock (pictured right),” Eugene explains, naming the director of PADF’s Urban Project for Participatory Development (PRODEPUR). “We had a disease we didn’t know anything about it, and we had nothing to fight it. But we figured if there would be anyone who would know what to do about it, it would be her.”

PRODEPUR started in 2009 as the urban extension of PADF’s successful Program for Participatory Development (PRODEP). Funded by the World Bank with support from the Carribbean Development Fund, and in partnership with the Haitian BMPAD, PRODEPUR actively works to build the capacity of community organizations, encouraging them to define their own local priorities and assisting them in implementing critical interventions in the areas of health, education, microenterprise, and infrastructure. In this respect, PRODEPUR fosters accountability and transparency while building a social capital that alleviates the problems of violence and conflict that have previously hampered development.

As the head of the Cite Soleil COPRODEP (the name for the community counsel which manages projects) Eugene had worked extensively with Kerline Pierre Rock and her team to implement priority community projects. Now cholera, devastating Wharf Jeremie by infecting 80 people in one day, was a top priority.

PRODEPUR immediately coordinated with the Haiti Ministry of Public Health (MSPP) to implement a sensibilization campaign (pictured below) as well as bring in critical supplies to hard-hit areas of Cite Soleil, including Wharf Jeremie. PRODEPUR distributed over 6,000 pamphlets and trained over 200 health workers and PADF/community staff, providing much-needed help to thousands of people.

Following the immediate disaster response, PRODEPUR worked with the community to find a sustainable, long-term solution to the problem. PRODEPUR constructed three health centers and three sanitation projects, but there was still something missing.  As Pierre Rock explains, “A lot of these communities did not have access to safe drinking water-even when water was affordable, the access points were far-away and often out of reach. We needed a solution that addressed this critical issue, and we knew small businesses could be the answer. 

In that vein, PRODEPUR worked with the COPRODEPS to construct 14 purified water kiosks. In Wharf Jeremie, the water purification center and kiosk does double duty fighting the root cause of cholera while at the same time providing an income-generation activity to one of the poorest communities in Haiti.

“The center allows us to have a chance to earn a living to support our families. Most of all, parents now know they have a place where they can get safe water for their children, and there is nothing more important than that,” Eugene proclaims.

For more information on PRODEPUR, please click here.