Haiti Water Summit

Haiti Water Summit

On November 16 and 17, faculty members at the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute joined University of Florida students and faculty to attend a meeting of ecologists, agronomists, and other scientists in Haiti coming together to discuss how water access is tied into several of the nation’s economic, environmental and health concerns.

The water summit was organized by the State University of Haiti School of Medicine and co-sponsored by the University of Florida and the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.

During the two-day event, topics ranged from the volume of available water in the country to how public health experts might better map water-borne infectious disease outbreaks.

Several UF professors were featured on the program, including Dr. Tom Frazer, director of the school of natural resources and environment; Dr. Mary Jane Angelo, professor of law and director of the environmental and land use law program; Dr. Wendy Graham, director of the University of Florida Water Institute; Dr. Eric Nelson, a pediatrician and member of the Emerging Pathogens Institute; and Dr. J. Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Students and faculty from the University of Florida standing together outside of the State University of Haiti School of Medicine in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Other presenters came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stanford University, the State University of Haiti, the Caribbean business community, and other institutions.

Nelson spoke on a “One Health” panel about how a smartphone application can help train first responders to outbreaks of water-borne diseases like cholera. He also led a workshop with professor Elda Déronette from the State University of Haiti about how consumer technology can help improve water security.

The Emerging Pathogens Institute has done an extensive amount of research in Haiti, and during Morris’ section of the One Health panel, he discussed the institute’s research on the transmission of water-borne pathogens in Haiti.

Frazer spoke on a panel about water volume, inventory and mapping and Angelo gave a talk about policy and water. Both Angelo and Graham helped lead workshops, Angelo on the governance, rights and legislation concerning water ownership, and Graham on water as a natural resource.

Several UF students also took part in the summit. According to Samantha Jacob, a second-year law student at UF Law who visits family in Haiti about once a year, the trip was an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges Haiti faces in its effort to provide its citizens with quality access to water.

“During our trip, we were able to get feedback from Haitians in Port-au-Prince regarding obstacles to water access across the country,” Jacob said. “Those who participated in the summit helped us to get a good look at the current problems with water governance in Haiti and possible areas of future research.”

Nursing students outside of the School of Medicine