January 19, 2010

Clean Water is Haiti's new currency

ENVIRONMENT/HEALTH - The gourde is the currency of Haiti, but the paper notes are basically worth nothing in the aftermath of last Tuesday's earthquake. Water is the new currency in Haiti, specifically clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

Its now estimated that over a quarter of a million people died in the earthquake and more bodies keep piling up. Initial estimates are now considered wildly premature as its evident this has been a catastrophe on the scale of the 2004 Tsunami and one of the largest natural disasters in human history. Already 70,000 people have been buried, but vast numbers of bodies remain to be found and buried. The scale of the disaster is such that all the bodies will never be found.

For the survivors now the real challenge is finding food and water. The water pipes all across the city have been ruptured, the buildings that distributed the water destroyed. Finding clean water is thus a real challenge for the approx. 750,000 people still living in Port-au-Prince.

“Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency,” one foreign aid worker said.

The irony that the gourde is named after a plant typically used for carrying water is not lost on Haitians, but its a very sad and bitter irony.

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