The roads in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, are buzzing: street merchants sell everything from clothes, to fruits to bottled water or soda, yelling prices to passers-by who are waiting for a “tap-tap”, the local buses that are painted red, blue, yellow, green and often bear the face of famous people or a popular phrase.
Although Port-au-Prince was deeply affected by the earthquake four and a half years ago and faces still many challenges, recovery is advancing. More than 90% of displaced families have now moved out from camps into safer neighborhoods, more children are attending school, and residents have now better access to water and other essential services.
But about 200 kilometers away, in the rural community of Simon, things look different: roads are dusty and unpaved, and life is quieter.
It is not always easy to get clean water in Haiti’s countryside. In fact, around 40 percent of Haiti’s rural population uses non-protected water sources like rivers or unprotected wells, increasing the risks to contract diseases like cholera. As a contrast, in the cities, those who don't have access to clean water sources have more possibilities to purchase bottled water, which makes it easier to control diseases.
The situation has been improving in the community of Simon, as about 60,000 inhabitants have now better access to clean drinking water, thanks to a World Bank rural water project that installed clean water pumps or water connections in rural houses.
But there are still many others in rural Haiti that are too far from clean water sources and are in high risk of using contaminated water.
Jean Michelet Theard Desir lives with his wife and two kids in Simon, near les Cayes in the South of Haiti. He now has a water tap next to his house and pays around $4 every month for clean water. But only a few years ago, his situation was very different.
“Before I had this well and I went to wash myself in the river. When you wash yourself in the river, you wash yourself in the water that everyone uses and where everything happens. Sometimes, your body itches,” said Theard Desir.