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The Artibonite Valley, where the cholera outbreak is based, is made up of very rural areas like this one, many villages and a few larger cities. (MCC photo by Silas Crews)

The Artibonite Valley, where the cholera outbreak is based, is made up of very rural areas like this one, many villages and a few larger cities. (MCC photo by Silas Crews)

MCC monitors cholera epidemic in Haiti

Linda Espenshade
October 27, 2010

 

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has been monitoring the cholera epidemic that has claimed lives and sickened many in Haiti in the past week, especially in the Artibonite Valley, where MCC staff work on reforestation and environmental education.
 
At this point, however, MCC Haiti believes nongovernmental organizations with a mandate to do medical interventions are best suited to respond to the crisis. In addition, the Haitian government and international health organizations are responding actively to the crisis. MCC Haiti does not have any ongoing health programs.
 
None of MCC’s partner organizations nor MCC’s eight workers who live and work in Desarmes, a town in the midst of the Artibonite, have been stricken by cholera.
 
Prior to the cholera outbreak, MCC distributed water filters in Desarmes as part of its response to the January earthquake. Many relief kits, which contain soap and other hygiene supplies, were distributed in the Artibonite Valley to communities where earthquake survivors are living. MCC hopes those resources will be helpful in safeguarding those communities from cholera.
 
Another MCC program implemented after the earthquake may help prevent future cholera outbreaks. MCC is paying about 150 earthquake survivors and their families to build multiple terraces above a mountain spring that provides drinking water for the town. Among many other advantages, the terraces and subsequent tree plantings will help prevent rain from washing soil and waste into the spring and into a tributary of the Artibonite River.
 
The Artibonite River and its watershed are believed to be the source of this cholera outbreak. Cholera outbreaks can happen any place where water supply, sanitation, food safety and hygiene are inadequate.
 
Please pray for the people who have cholera and their families, as well as the many health and government officials actively working to contain this epidemic. Anyone wishing to donate to MCC’s water projects around the world can log onto donate.mcc.org/filter/bytheme.
 
To learn more about MCC’s first-year response to the January Haiti earthquake, you can sign up now to receive the January issue of A Common Place, MCC’s free, quarterly magazine, at http://acommonplace.mcc.org/.