Bonswa. [Good afternoon in Creole]
Thank you all for your very warm welcome.
My visit to Los Palmas has been filled with emotion -- with sorrow but also hope.
We are here today to launch an important initiative:
One that can protect people from water-borne diseases.
One that can help to end cholera in Haiti.
One that can change lives for the better.
The Total Sanitation Campaign is a development milestone for Haiti.
The need for this step is clear. One out of two Haitians lacks access to adequate sanitation systems. This has a terrible impact not only on health but on the future of every woman, man and child.
The Total Sanitation Campaign is an initiative of the Government of Haiti, supported by the United Nations. It targets everyone, but especially the most vulnerable. It aims to raise sanitation standards and improve health conditions in general.
The cost is modest: only four dollars per person to save lives and secure the future.
I am pleased to launch this campaign in Los Palmas. Together with its neighboring locality, Jacob, the men and women of the community have demonstrated what communities can do, with a little bit of help, to be the drivers of their own development.
The area of Los Palmas and Jacob has had very limited access to basic health services. It was significantly affected by cholera in the past. But Los Palmas and Jacob have been free of cholera since early 2013.
Thanks to community efforts and with our support, this area is now one of the few localities in Haiti that is considered a “green zone” in terms of sanitation standards.
With partnership and support, similar progress can become a reality for every family in Haiti.
In that spirit, I would like to thank UNICEF for the tremendous energy and dedication it has brought to this sanitation campaign. I would also like to thank the Governments of Canada and Japan, as well as a number of international non-governmental organizations, who have also provided crucial assistance and expertise.
The United Nations stands ready to help expand the initiative to the most remote areas and to places where cholera persists. Together with the World Bank, the United Nations will assist the Government of Haiti in targeting an initial 20 communes affected by the disease, covering 3 million people within the next five years.
Cholera rates are declining and the battle is slowly being won. We must, however, intensify these efforts. And we must focus on the wider quest to ensure access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
I call upon all of Haiti’s international partners to support this initiative and help us expand it to every community in Haiti. With commitment, vision and solidarity, the progress we seek – and that Haitians deserve – can be ours.
You can count on me and the United Nations to do our part.