Tags: Eco management, Water efficiency, Disease outbreak / control, Water Harvesting, Water Quality, North America Page 2 of 3 | Single page
Underground water and sanitation pipelines and concrete water storage tanks are severely damaged. What needs to happen quickly is to put some short term solutions in place. “The short term response typically includes bottled water and the use of high volume purification equipment. While this is expensive, it can quickly be deployed as a short term solution. The response of organizations involves the rehabilitation and expansion of sustainable water and sanitation infrastructure.”
They need to hurry. Dr Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Doctors Without Borders says the “next health risk could be diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and other diseases among hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in overcrowded camps with poor or non-existent sanitation.”
If this is the case, surely the plumbing fraternity, including engineers, hydraulic consultants and ground level plumbers, must be allowed to voice their opinions and start work on building new, sustainability based infrastructure.
World Plumbing Council chairman Robert Burgon says the plumbing community is currently doing what it can despite WHO restrictions.
“WPC members, like the rest of the world, were shocked to see the tragedy which resulted from January’s earthquake in Haiti. Those of us who live in countries where these events rarely if ever take place, cannot begin to imagine the terror and human suffering which arise both at the time of the event, in the days and weeks afterwards and then, perhaps more importantly, in the months and years in which the recovery process takes place.
In all such disasters, the role of access to clean water and sanitation quickly becomes apparent and Haiti is no exception. The reports coming from the aid agencies working there often mention these two issues as priorities. To date, WPC has been unable to find an effective mechanism for direct involvement in such circumstances. We have discussed this on several occasions with the World Health Organization.”
Robert says the WPC is aware of enthusiastic volunteers in previous disasters just getting on a plane and going to offer their services free of charge but are conscious that such offers are not coordinated and not always welcomed. It would be good to find a way to use the talents of people in the plumbing industry who would be able and willing to help. However, WPC is not a charitable organization and does not have funds which can be used in aid situations unlike many of the organizations currently playing a lead role in Haiti.
“We have tried on several occasions to create links with some of these charities so that plumbing expertise could be part of the solution they deliver on the ground but so far this has not met with any success. It is an area on which more work is required.”
Robert also believes that one future solution could be to train residents of poorer nations in basic plumbing techniques. It means if a natural disaster takes place, at least infrastructure would be in place and able to be maintained to a certain level during the crisis.
“Unfortunately, natural disasters often affect the poorest countries where, prior to the disaster, water and sanitation facilities were possibly at a level considerably below what would be expected elsewhere. It also seems that whatever solutions are put in place to support countries affected by such disasters are also at a very low level and of a relatively temporary nature. For example, one element which is often missed is ensuring that the people being provided with water and sanitation have access to skilled people who can ensure that such systems remain effective. Basic plumbing training for some local villagers should, in my view, always be part of what is done.Continued...