Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Rural Haiti: A Medical Anthropology


Anthropology Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Medicine and Health Sciences


Haitis complex history and culture plays a major role in shaping the current access to safe water resources and improved sanitation. The goal of providing safe and sustainable supplies of water and improved sanitation is dependent on our understanding of the complex and poorly understood interaction of political, socioeconomic, religious beliefs/cultural, and environmental factors that relate to how Haitians perceive illness. Improved understanding of water borne diseases can be obtained by listening to, interpreting the individual stories of vodou and catholic priests, protestant pastors, teachers, peasant farmers, and women selling charcoal in the market. The water and sanitation problem in Haiti must be viewed from a holistic point of view in order to craft sustainable and culturally compatible water and sanitation solutions. This paper explores the cultural codes that guide Rural Haitians in using water, sanitation and hygiene. Data were collected from 60 ethnographic survey, 6 Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Over 100 water samples from 8 rural Haitian communities take to analyze water quality. The data suggests that religious and social rituals, as well as eco-political factors, are influencing water use, water contamination, water treatment, and sanitation practices. The health culture is influenced by both traditional healing and herbal medicines; western-style medicine; and other sociocultural factors. The efforts of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and government agencies to provide safe water, better sanitation and hygiene, and health care for the study population if their efforts are informed by ethnographic data so that socially suitable interventions are implemented.

Conference Name

Annual Meeting of Central States Anthropological Society (CSAS)

Conference Location

St. Louis, Missouri

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