In Haiti, where there is no public sewage treatment or disposal systems, germs for hepatitis, cholera, and chronic diarrhea are carried in water used for cooking and drinking. As a result, Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere.
International Action, in Washington, has been working since 2006 to bring clean water to the country by attaching tablet chlorinators to water sources throughout the city of Port-au-Prince.
Prior to the January 12 earthquake, International Action installed 140 chlorinators in and around Port-au-Prince, which protected the water supply for more than 400,000 residents previously exposed to debilitating waterborne illnesses. 100 of these chlorinators were placed on public water tanks, the remaining 40 were used for hospitals, orphanages, and schools.
Its goal had been to install five chlorinators per month, protecting an additional 10,000 Haitians with each one. But its efforts have been impeded by the earthquake, which destroyed 127 of the 140 water tanks that the organization had been servicing.
Despite the devastation, International Action has experienced an unprecedented interest in its mission in the earthquake's wake.
Prior to the earthquake, the charity had about 30 major donors who contributed about $300,000 annually to support its work.
Since the earthquake, Lindsay Mattison, International Action's executive director, said its income has tripled.
This influx of donations is currently helping the charity install 120 chlorinators throughout Port-au-Prince.
It is now working with the Pan American Branch of the World Health Organization to install its water system in Haiti's Artibonite Valley.