Situated on the northern edge of the capital, Port-au-Prince, Cité Soleil is Haiti’s largest slum and home to between 200,000 and 300,000 people. Most of Cité Soleil’s inhabitants live in deep poverty.
The project immediately improved Cité Soleil’s sanitation system and local awareness of sanitation issues. To sustain these achievements, $18,000 worth of clearing and safety equipment used during the project was handed over to the community.
Unemployment is high and persistent, widespread gang violence is endemic. The health of slum residents is jeopardized by sanitation infrastructure – a network of canals channeling rain water and sewage into the sea – that is inadequate and poorly maintained.
By 2006 accumulated refuse, vegetation and rocks had blocked the canals. Piles of rubbish, in places more than two metres high, had collected behind bridges over the canal to form small dams. The resulting frequent flooding and stagnant pools of polluted water posed major health risks to the local population.
The security situation in Cité Soleil, where numerous armed factions have made the slum a no-go area for local police, presents serious challenges to successful implementation of public works activities.
The Canal Cleaning Project
In 2006 the United Nations Country Team in Haiti hired UNOPS to implement its Canal Cleaning Project, with the task of removing as much refuse as possible and creating jobs for local inhabitants within the project’s budgetary and time constraints.
UNOPS managed the project, assuming responsibility for planning, renting equipment and organizing the recruitment, training, supervision and payment of project personnel through local non-governmental organizations.
The work was carried out by 1,260 local, unskilled workers. Four teams of 308 workers were assembled, with each team working two weeks to maximize local access to jobs. Twenty-eight local residents were employed as foremen and team leaders.
Each day groups of 10 to 20 workers went to different areas, equipped with tools and safety equipment. Once a week all extracted material was collected and transported by truck to a landfill site outside the city.
The project cleared 14,500 m3 (1,800 truckloads) of rubbish from the Canal St. George.
4,300 m3 (540 truckloads) of rubbish were cleared from the Canal Lumière and nearby drainage ditches.
1,260 local unskilled labourers collectively received a total of 16,128 days of work.
In addition to clearance work, the project raised awareness of sanitation issues. Two seminars provided information on the project’s objectives, environmental and health issues, and post-project maintenance. A further 32 residents received training on community sensitization to environmental and health issues and on how to disseminate information about the project.
The project immediately improved Cité Soleil’s sanitation system and local awareness of sanitation issues. To sustain these achievements, $18,000 worth of clearing and safety equipment used during the project was handed over to the community, who pledged to conduct post-project maintenance and regular clearing.