WASH for Batey Communities

Dominican Republic 688 beneficiaries

The Dominican Republic is home to approximately 230 rural communities known as “bateyes” set up around state-run sugar mills, which once formed the economic backbone of this small Caribbean nation. The bateyes are socioeconomically isolated communities previously built by the government on sugar cane plantations to house cane cutters, mostly from neighboring Haiti. Today, both Haitians and their offspring and Dominicans live in the bateyes in extreme poverty with limited access to essential services, including clean drinking water—a fundamental human right. Estimates of the populations living and working in these bateyes vary, from 200,000 to more than 1 million, and represent between 7% and 12% of the total population of the Dominican Republic. Despite their size and fundamental role in the Dominican economy, however, batey populations suffer excessively from economic isolation, extreme poverty, and water insecurity. An indicator of this greater water insecurity is that rates of childhood-related and waterborne diseases, primarily diarrhea, within the bateyes are considered three times higher than outside the bateyes. Moreover, children born of undocumented Haitian parents in the bateyes are also undocumented. They cannot attend higher levels of schooling, leading to adverse circumstances and failures. The vulnerable population also suffers from many other diseases, including HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, hypertension, diabetes, malnutrition, parasitic infections, cancers, etc.The Monte Plata province is the fourth poorest province in the country, with 84% of its population living in poverty [of a total population of 180,376 (2002) and a density of 69 people per km2]. Two out of three households risk contamination during water handling due to using dirty or inadequate containers or during transportation and storage at home. The prevalence of diarrhea is 29.1%, with the highest prevalence among children 6 to 11 and 12 to 23 months of age, at 39% and 42%, respectively. These statistics are likely to be even higher within the province's bateyes and explain why batey residents are more affected by water insecurity than those outside bateyes. If left unaddressed, this level of water insecurity could increase the vulnerability of these communities to preventable waterborne diseases and inhibit the academic growth of schoolchildren. 

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