Water is critical for the well-being of Haitian families: for domestic use, such as drinking, bathing, cooking, and ensuring good health; and for productive use, such as irrigating crops and feeding livestock. Every 3-4 years, Southern Haiti is faced with flooding, hurricanes, or other disasters linked to water and water management, which can causes loss of life, destruction of food and agriculture, damage to homes and infrastructure, and increased rates of water-caused disease such as cholera. By planting trees and building other protective measures on Haiti’s hillsides, communities can slow the flow of water during flood events, and thus protect their lives and livelihoods, their homes, their agriculture, and their important water points. Through good water management, including sanitation and hygiene, families can also increase their access to clean water.
CRS’ “Watersheds for Well-Being” (“Bassins versants pour le Bien-Etre,” or B4B) project works with the local government and community organizations to identify and protect important water points. Through B4B, CRS trains farmers to protect their hillsides and water sources through tree planting and sustainable agriculture. The project provides clean water to communities, and CRS’ local church partner trains communities in water management, hygiene and sanitation. B4B’s first year has been a pilot year to establish a successful model for good watershed management. The challenge now is to scale up and improve upon these advances to ensure that communities are able to reduce their risks from water-caused disasters.