Cholera outbreaks challenge Haiti recovery

Unsafe drinking water leads to renewed cholera outbreaks in Haiti’s capital city.

Story by Kathryn Reid. Photo by Meg Sattler.
Published November 17, 2011 at 12:00am PST

One year after the start of a cholera epidemic among the survivors of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, new outbreaks of the disease are occurring in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and surrounding areas.

Cholera spreads through contaminated water, and heavy rains since September 2011 have facilitated the current resurgence.

Lack of clean water puts population at risk

According to Haiti’s Ministry of Health, more than 465,000 Haitians have fallen ill with cholera, and more than 6,500 people have died from the disease in the past year.

Only 54 percent of the Haitian population has safe drinking water, and only 30 percent has toilet facilities, according to aid groups cooperating on water, sanitation, and hygiene programs. Cholera will continue to take a toll for years until the country builds adequate water and sanitation infrastructure.

“In the early days, cholera was something of a taboo topic for many people. They didn’t want to discuss it and often weren’t seeking help,” says Meg Sattler, World Vision communications officer in Haiti. 

In the past year, international organizations and the Haitian government have focused on prevention through education programs at school, at home, and in the media.

“It’s promising that when you meet kids in camps and ask them about cholera, they can tell you all about the importance of washing their hands and using clean water,” Sattler says.

World Vision’s response

World Vision’s work in Haiti to combat cholera includes:

  • Distributing water filters, buckets, and jerry cans 
  • Rehabilitating borehole wells 
  • Providing education on hygiene practices 


We also support treatment centers and oral rehydration posts to help those who have contracted the disease.

Two ways you can help

Pray for the people of Haiti. Pray that the cholera outbreaks would subside and that access to clean water would increase.

Make a one-time gift to our Clean Water Fund. Your donation will help provide interventions like latrines and hand-washing stations, deep wells that supply safe water, storage containers for rainwater, piping systems to irrigate crops, and much more.