In Haiti, the death toll from Hurricane Jeanne is more than
3,000 souls. Too much water -- and too little -- is the bane
of this nation of 8 million, which shares an island with the
Dominican Republic. The recent storm left 200,000 people in
Gonaiöves, Haiti's third-largest city, without food or
shelter and has contaminated already-scarce water supplies.
and raised in British Columbia, Canada, Shoshana Guy received
her masters' degree from Columbia
School of Journalism in 2003. She now works for NBC
news as an assistant producer.
Even when they are not enduring a natural disaster, for most Haitians getting water for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning and bathing is a daily struggle. Children as young as 4 years old strain to hoist small containers of water as they trail behind their older sisters who walk in gaggles up steep hills and down long stretches of road, their heavier buckets balanced on their heads. Women wash clothes in the tiniest trickles running through dirty canals, and sit in precious slow-running mountain streams to bathe. All over the island, wherever I looked, people were searching, hustling, even begging for the water they needed.
More than 60 percent of Haitians do not have access to clean water. The country is ranked last on the International Water Poverty Index, and continued political instability has only made the situation worse. In February 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president, was forced from power. Aristide's departure, brokered by American diplomats, caused an outbreak of violence and looting. U.S. forces eventually intervened.
Haiti and the United States have a long and troubled history -- from the U.S. Marine Corps occupation of Haiti in 1915 through Washington's long-standing support of the dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Then the United States supported Aristide as a reformer and helped him return to power in 1994, only to abandon him in 2004.
The country's interim government, led by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, is focused on maintaining security and obtaining international donations to rebuild Haiti's economy. Yet most long-term solutions that might alleviate Haiti's poverty and water crisis cannot be initiated until after the elections scheduled for 2005.
In July 2004, I spent three weeks in Haiti reporting on water. With various translators in tow, I walked the streets of Port-au-Prince, hiked mountain trails, bumped over washed-out roads, and visited hospitals and slums. I spoke with environmentalists and impoverished mothers, big business owners and boys hawking goods in the streets; always looking for water.
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|Read a discussion
about Haiti with FRONTLINE/World Fellow Shoshana
Guy on Washingtonpost.com.
Part of the Web-exclusive FRONTLINE/World Fellowship
program. FRONTLINE/World is exploring partnerships
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around the United States with the goal of identifying and
developing the best of an emerging generation of journalists.
The FRONTLINE/World Fellowship program is supported
Corporation of New York.
Read more about the program.
Struggle for Water" words, photographs and video by Shoshana
Guy. Additional photographs contributed by Michael Kamber.