In Haiti, shortage of toilets has officials concerned about spread of diseases

The Miami HeraldFebruary 24, 2010 

The stench of human waste permeates the air around the crude shelters made of sticks and sheets.

There are nowhere near enough toilets — portables, latrines or any other kind — for the tens of thousands living in the camps in and around Port-au-Prince.

The squalid conditions have government and relief workers worried about a potential outbreak of deadly diseases, such as diarrhea, spread by unsanitary conditions. And relief agencies scrambling to install toilets are still figuring out how to later dispose of their waste.

"Where people are living, that's where they're defecating," said Lucienne Estimé, 49, who has organized volunteers at a Cité Soleil camp to sweep some of the trash -- if not the human waste -- away from tents and tarps and closer to the street.

"We pile it up and burn it because we don't have a place to throw it or trucks to pick it up," said Louisena Michelle, 30, one of the sweepers.

The camp at the site of the collapsed Saint-Louis de Gonzague school in Delmas had one portable toilet for some 10,000 people, residents said, until three latrines enclosed by white sheets went up last week.

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