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Haiti Report: BC Water Specialist Describes a Country's Life and Death Struggle

David Putt is a water specialist from Nelson, BC. He was working in Haiti when the earthquake struck. His daughter, Freya, takes notes on her conversations with him as he outlines the issues he believes should be pushed with ministers responsible for managing foreign aid to Haiti. Here is what Putt had to say:

 On Sanitation...

There is no sanitation work happening yet and I haven't heard anyone even planning any. It is a high and urgent

priority to prevent outbreaks of disease. We are starting to get more reports of diarrhea in the camps and everyone is afraid of a cholera outbreak

On Antibiotics...

There are still extreme medical cases like limbs that were never set and will have to be reset. In the few clinics we try to cobble together supplies for we are getting more and more requests for antibiotics to treat people whose wounds are infected and with spreading infection, gangrene. Also people getting sick with diarrhea and fever compounding their problems due to lack of water of any kind let alone clean water.

On Agriculture...

 People have been streaming out of Port au Prince into the country because there are so few resources here. the result is that people in the rural areas are running through their food much faster than they ordinarily would and we have a few reports of people already eating up what should be next season's seed stock. there must be some medium term planning to help people restock their seeds and have enough resources to keep the next crop coming.

Excerpts of Conversation with Dave Putt - January 24th...

A doctor came up to me...from a town where they do this fantastic metal work, and I thought that they were fairly well served there...but this guy was saying they were out of medication.  And then they told me about the situation, and it’s just the same as so many places, and they hope hope hope that you as the white guy can do something. There was a woman in the crowd who handed her sick baby to me and said can you help me get my sick baby to a clinic, and there were four people saying they want jobs, and the baby was clearly, very sick. I just felt terrible. (Yesterday David said that the doctor was there, the baby was there, but the supplies weren’t and so the baby probably died).

And then there was a media crew with all there paraphernalia, and their bright lights. A TV crew, I don’t know where they were from ....

There are so few of us on the ground that are actually doing anything, you pass umpteen armed UN vehicles. A few UN food program trucks. You just don’t see much aid. There’s a little shake [earthquake]. You just don’t see much aid on the road.                

There’s very little significant aid in people’s hands. And in Champs de Mars, I haven’t been there for two days, but we got this call again today saying the clinic there had run out of supplies, and we gave them a significant amount the last time we were there, and if they’ve run out, it means they’ve had a lot of people coming in, still. And they’re just doing triage themselves. By now, you’d think the medical stuff, at least, would be covered off. This is day 11. There’s no significant aid getting into people’s hands. No major aid.

I’ve seen all of 200 tents, anywhere that I’ve gone. Total. And most of them are in front of middle class people’s houses. And that’s another part of the problem, or another big part of it is that the structure is so corrupt, and connections are everything, that kind of thing. And it leaves a mass of people outside the loop. The local elites aren’t a target, or they might be at the late stages, but whites are an identifiable target. And I understand that. So far the whites have failed people completely, on this go round, not to mention all the other go rounds.

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