Improving Access to Water and Sanitation in Rural Haiti

September 25, 2014


Haiti has built safe drinking water systems serving more than 50,000 people and school latrines for more than 5,000 students and teachers in rural Haiti. The government also helped establish professional operators and water and sanitation committees in nine communes and provided hands-on training to the operators and committees in community mobilization, conflict resolution, billing and accounting, meter reading and repairing, chlorination as well as plumbing.


While more Haitians have gained access to improved drinking water sources over the last decade, reducing the gap between urban and rural water access remains a challenge. In rural parts of Haiti, less than half of the population has access to improved water sources and only 17 percent of people have access to improved sanitation.

The limited resources available for water supply outside the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area were mostly used for urban water supply in secondary towns. In addition, the Ministry of Health’s rural water units had limited funds and had become inactive. There was also no specific institution responsible for sanitation. Without an institutional presence in rural areas, it was difficult to prioritize investments in order to reach the neediest citizens. Local communities could not properly maintain infrastructure and many rural water systems were managed by water committees often consisting of unpaid volunteers elected by the community. The performance of water committees varied widely, but most water committees were not able to collect sufficient funds for operation and routine maintenance.

Adding to these challenges, a cholera epidemic struck Haiti in October 2010 exposing the important health risks related to low water supply and sanitation coverage in rural areas, as well as the need to speed up investments in building and rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure.


The World Bank partnered with the State and Peace-Building Fund (SPF) and the Haitian National Water and Sanitation Directorate (DINEPA) to address the challenges of increasing access to water supply and sanitation services in rural communities of the South and Nippes departments of Haiti. The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project introduced a professional management model involving local, professional water operators (OPs), which were selected and contracted by the community to operate, maintain and manage the water supply systems. It also promoted cost recovery, metering, and the use of water kiosks, as well as gravity-fed piped systems to minimize potential technical issues. Where pumping was necessary and cost-effective, the project preferred renewable energy, such as solar.

The communities were selected by evaluating their willingness to pay for water services and by using a participatory approach providing communities with a series of choices for different water service levels – household connection or water kiosk—and different tariff structures.

In line with the national sanitation strategy, the Bank also conducted hygiene and sanitation promotion and training activities, focusing on the development of incentives to encourage Haitians to build, maintain and use their own toilets. 


The project supported improvements in water and sanitation through several key outcomes. 

The main results of the water supply interventions include:

  • Construction or rehabilitation of 15 drinking water systems to serve 59,367 people. Systems were equipped with a chlorinator and each operator has a test kit to measure water quality.
  • Establishment of a new management model in nine communities  serving 49,712 people. The water and sanitation committees (CAEPAs) and OPs were trained in community mobilization, conflict resolution, billing and accounting, meter reading and repairing, chlorination as well as plumbing. In addition, following the cholera epidemic, members of CAEPAs, OPs and plumbers were trained in the basic response to cholera and other waterborne diseases.
  • Installation of 1,598 household connections to water networks, and construction or rehabilitation of 55 water distribution kiosks and 34 public fountains.
  • Installation of eight boreholes with hand pumps serving 4,000 people.

The main results of the sanitation interventions are:

  • Sanitation works in14 public schools and one health center reaching 5,547 students and teachers.
  • Construction or rehabilitation of 25 sets of latrines, 25 urinals and 28 hand-washing stations.
  • Training for 14 masons from seven communities and one Rural Development Units (URD) technician to build latrines in the participating communities.
  • Training for 28 trainers and 28 community workers in the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) approach.
  • Launch of hygiene and sanitation promotion campaigns on two regional radio stations. 
  • Training sessions on hygiene promotion and sanitation in schools and health centers, increasing the proportion of households that own and use a latrine.

Bank Group Contribution

The Bank contributed to DINEPA’s Rural Water and Sanitation Program with a $5 million grant


The State and Peace-Building Fund contributed an additional $5 million. The professional operator management model was adopted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). Subsequently, the Bank and IADB have been coordinating investments and sharing lessons learned.

Moving Forward 

As a result of the successful implementation of the professional operator management model in the South department, a new project is under preparation to scale up the model to the national level. The new project will accompany DINEPA in its decentralization process and in efforts to achieve sustainable access to water supply and sanitation services in rural areas and small towns. It will build on the lessons learned from the implementation of this project, from best practices in sector reform from other countries and from global health and water supply and sanitation practices to help prevent and control cholera.


The project has successfully increased access to water services in participating rural communities. The water systems constructed or rehabilitated have benefited 59,367 people in 15 communities. The project has also contributed to increasing access to and use of sanitation to 4,964 households in the seven communities targeted for this intervention. In addition, sanitation was improved in one health center and 14 schools which received a total of 25 new or rehabilitated latrine blocks to benefit 5,547 students and teachers. Finally, 27.5% of households surveyed in beneficiary communities reported having built a latrine with their own resources in the last five years.

people benefited from rehabilitated or constructed water systems.

Project map