The Government of Haiti's water governance reform agenda

 Flooding in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.  Photo: United Nations.  

Flooding in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.  Photo: United Nations.  

It's been about two years since I completed a series of field studies of water governance in Haiti.  Our project in northern Haiti finished up about a year later.  It's gratifying to work on development projects on-the-ground, but it's also rewarding to take those experiences and share them with the broader international and academic communities.  Two articles I wrote about water governance in Haiti have been published recently.  The first is a broad look at Haiti's water laws and policies, and the institutions that develop and enforce those laws.  The article has been published by the Tulane Environmental Law Journal and is available online here.  

The second article is a more focused study on local institutions in the Trou-du-Nord watershed in northern Haiti.  The region has water resources, but many water users competing for a modest supply.  At present local institutions are insufficient to manage these resources and users adequately.  My article explores some institutional reforms local stakeholders, the Government of Haiti, and international donors may be interested in pursuing.  This second article has been published by AQUA-LAC, the journal of UNESCO's International Hydrological Program, as part of a special issue composed of articles written by myself and other colleagues who worked on the Trou-du-Nord watershed project.  The special issue includes a forward from Jovenel Moise, the President of Haiti.  President Moise's forward is included below:

This special issue of AQUA-LAC is a magnificent example of the solidarity expressed by the International Hydrological Program for Latin America and the Caribbean (IHP-LAC) in promoting the integrated management of the water resources of the Republic of Haiti. Indeed, in its report in 1972 on integrated technical assistance in Haiti, the OAS stated, “The development of Haiti’s natural resources is to a large extent linked to maximizing the rational utilization of its water resources. Failing these factors, the country’s agricultural and industrial development, as well as the life of its inhabitants, will be confronted by severe limitations” (OAS, 1972).

This issue has 9 articles written by authors from three countries: Haiti, the United States and Mexico. They cover very diverse fields, ranging from the reconstitution of extreme rainfall events in Haiti – currently a highly pertinent topic with climate change and extreme hydrological phenomena – to an analysis of water governance reform in Haiti, which emphasizes the numerous challenges that have to be overcome to achieve integrated and rational water management.

Furthermore, four articles refer to the water resources of the Trou du Nord watershed, which supplies the industrial zone of Caracol. They provide analytical elements on research issues that not only have to be taken further with respect to this watershed, but which can also be transposed to other watersheds in Haiti in view to carrying out comparative studies.

Regarding water intended for human consumption, the results of an evaluation of microbiological risks highlight the danger of Crytosporidium oocysts for the health of the population. The issue of water in emerging non-secured districts is also studied and presented in an article on water supply to Canaan.

The analysis of epidemiological transition linked to hydrometeorological disasters provides methodological tools and calls for specialists in water and health sciences to carry out multidisciplinary actions to establish, and experiment with, protocols aimed at facilitating the development of new tools for preventing and controlling certain water-borne diseases.

This special issue addresses the urgent need for the Haitian authorities to establish a national water policy. By relying on the basic principles of integrated water resource management, I strongly believe that this reform will lead the country in the short, medium and long terms to: (i) reduce the environmental risks linked to water, (ii) better satisfy the population’s needs for water, and (iii) solve conflicts between the different actors in this sector.

My administration is committed to this process by proposing legislative and administrative changes, and by making new choices for investment in the water sector by waging on stronger scientific and technical cooperation between and IHP-LAC. This is the context in which I have made the management and control of surface water a major goal of my governmental program.

Jovenel Moïse President of the Republic of Haiti