Haiti: World Hope International and GivePower’s Solar Desalination Center Provides Clean Water Sustainably
World Hope International partnered with GivePower in 2019 to build a solar-powered water desalination and distribution center in the town of Anse-à-Galets on the Haitian island of La Gonâve. Powered entirely by solar energy and battery storage, the Spectra LB-20,000 Container Watermaker systems are housed in 20-foot shipping containers and capable of transforming 70,000 liters of brackish and/or seawater per day. World Hope invested an initial $250,000 into the project and helped make necessary introductions into the community and got the special equipment safely to the remote island.
During the exploration phase of the project, one resident, Celine, commented that her children “don’t get sick very often. In a month, one of the kids might only have diarrhea or pain two or three times”— an experience shared across the island. Unfortunately, the only hospital on the island suffered the same lack of clean water access along with the rest of the community.
“If we had something that could desalinate and treat the salty water here on the island, then we would always have clean water then because we would always have the sea. We just don’t have the means now to extract it. It’s a very important project,” Yvon Pierre, the Director of Human Resources at the local hospital, commented in January 2019.
In response to such vocalized needs and ideas World Hope International was receiving from the community and the hospital, the concept of a self-sustaining, affordable, desalination center was hatched and the partnership launched.
Despite challenges brought about by unrest and with the added urgency of COVID-19 hitting an island whose only hospital did not even have reliable access to clean water, the solar-powered water desalination and distribution center, or “water plant,” was successfully launched in late spring of 2020. The project harnesses the entrepreneurial spirit on the island, not only providing clean water at affordable pricing, but employing local islanders to run the facility and opening up opportunities for micro-enterprise.
Now fully operational, the water plant utilizes reverse osmosis on the brackish water, which removes over 99% of all dissolved solids, bacteria, and viruses, and makes it safe to drink and significantly reduces the previous reliance on scarce and contaminated freshwater sources. The sale of the water allows the installation to be entirely self-sufficient, covering the ongoing maintenance of the equipment and salaries of the local technicians and staff. As part of the setup, 1,000 liters of clean water are provided daily to the hospital from the water farm, with any possible additional needs easily and affordably accessible.
The water plant is now selling more than half of the production capacity each day, with some entrepreneurs buying water to do home delivery to customers across the city. The venture is already generating more revenue than expense with additional capacity and new sales options in consideration. Meanwhile, World Hope is also expanding a piped water social venture in Cambodia, which will connect healthcare facilities as well as households and schools to clean, affordable water, and exploring additional opportunities to innovate for impact in the intersection of clean water & energy, global health, and social ventures.