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Water Sachets and the Environment Cheap drinking water bags and their impact on the environment

Limited access to safe drinking water is an ongoing struggle in Haiti. One of the most popular solutions to this are sachés dlo, 9oz water bags that are sold in every corner of the country. At three bags for five gourdes (about 7p), water bags are an affordable option for a population with a 60% unemployment rate. However, in the capital, Port-au-Prince, many thousands of discarded water bags are clogging up the city’s streets and rivers.

Sachés dlo are often distributed in Haitian schools. According to the World Bank, waterborne diseases are one of the leading causes of child mortality

With the temperature constantly above 30C in summer, they are the cheapest, most practical way to keep hydrated.

There are very few rubbish bins on the streets, and those that do exist are often overloaded and unusable.

Most of the plastic bags end up on the streets and in rivers, causing environmental and health issues, particularly in slums and poorer areas.

‘We tried to negotiate a recycling plan with the government. They increased taxes on plastic, which led us to believe that there would be trash collections and recycling, but nothing ever happened,’ says Alex Zamor, vice-president of the Alaska water production factory in Port-au-Prince.

‘They want us to pay the costs of recycling,’ says Zamor. Since the international market is not interested in buying the recycled plastic bags, Alaska would have to raise prices to cover the cost of recycling – which defeats the purpose of producing affordable sanitised water.

 

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