Madame Eveline: A Champion for Clean Water

Eveline Camille (“Madame Eveline”) has a long history of fighting disease in her own community.  Before she became an employee of the safe water program, Eveline boiled water and sold it by the gallon, targeting mothers of young children and sick people.  Partly because of this initiative in her home town of Jolivert in northwest Haiti, the local clinic hired her in 2003 to become part of the newly founded water program.  At that time, the program served several hundred families who treated their water with Gadyen Dlo, a household water treatment system composed of a safe storage container and locally produced chlorine.

Eveline went on to become the Chief Technician for the program, a post she holds currently.  Her responsibilities include training new families on how to use the system, recruiting and managing chlorine sales agents, conducting follow-up household visits, and promoting use of chlorine in her community.  She also keeps extremely detailed reports on the dates each family purchases chlorine and the results of chlorine tests conducted in their homes.

The quantity and quality of data kept by Eveline has allowed numerous research teams from MIT and Emory University, including a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that showed that users of chlorine had 59% reduced odds of having diarrhea than non-users.  The research has also shown the importance of what Eveline does on a daily basis for the health of her community.  (I like to say that the alternative phrasing for our finding that “households who received frequent household visits were significantly more likely to have positive chlorine residual at the time of an unannounced visit” is “Madame Eveline is awesome!”   In other words, if Madame Eveline has been to your house recently, you treat your water; if she hasn’t, the odds go down).

The work started by Eveline and her team also provided the model that Deep Springs International has used to expand the program throughout Haiti, especially since the earthquake and cholera outbreak in 2010.  The program that Eveline manages in Jolivert currently serves over 20,000 families.  Overall, Deep Springs International has taken this model to over 65,000 families (over 300,000 individuals) to provide access to chlorine on an ongoing basis.  Through increased chlorine production in response to cholera, Deep Springs has worked with partners such as CDC, UNICEF, Haiti’s Directorate of Water and Sanitation (DINEPA), Partners in Health, Save the Children, Rotary clubs, and many others to treat over 550 million liters of water and save an estimated 3,000 lives.  Eveline played a critical role in networking with local government officials and assisting with trainings as DINEPA distributed chlorine in the Jolivert region as part of their cholera response strategy.

Eveline has made a long-term commitment to improving the health of her community in a very poor region of a country which has had multiple major natural disasters and disease outbreaks.  While the difficult environment in Haiti has caused many efforts to combat waterborne disease to be short-lived, Eveline’s commitment to the cause for over a decade shows that patience and perseverance are possible and necessary to long-term results.  As Deep Springs has experimented with different promotion and distribution models throughout the country, we have become convinced that people are the most critical element of sustainable and scalable programs, and we have attempted to find ways to replicate Madame Eveline in new sites.  She has conducted trainings and participated in workshops in several areas of the country and continues to mentor health agents in the Jolivert area.  Deep Springs is privileged to partner with Eveline and her work to save lives in Haiti.