Developing Rural Water Systems: An Evaluation of Haiti’s First Chlorinated Municipal Water System in the Central Plateau

  • Aaron S. Gordon Clemson University
  • Jeff Plumblee Clemson University
  • David Vaughn Clemson University
Keywords: Water, Haiti, Community development, Rural water systems


Haiti has the worst drinking-water indicators in the Western Hemisphere and access to improved water sources has not dramatically improved for over two decades. This limited success despite hefty investments can be attributed to a variety of reasons including lack of community involvement and lack of long-term support of operation and maintenance for rural water systems. This paper presents a case study of Haiti’s first municipal chlorinated water system in the rural Central Plateau and critically examines its effectiveness. While the technology behind the Cange water system is highly innovative and effective, its lack of community involvement and feasible operation/maintenance jeopardizes its long-term viability. Methods to sustain the system without major external intervention are currently being developed and attempted through a partnership with Haiti’s public water sector. NGOs and organizations should ensure that an appropriate community development framework is established prior to system installation so that these problems can be avoided.

Author Biographies

Aaron S. Gordon, Clemson University

Aaron Gordon is a Senior Civil Engineering major at Clemson University with extensive experience in sustainable development, construction, and project management in Haiti. He has spent almost a year in Haiti’s rural Central Plateau on projects ranging from repairing small schools, water distribution/treatment systems, sanitation infrastructure, and aquaculture programs. Additionally, he is the founding director of Clemson’s chapter of Grand Challenge Scholars.

Jeff Plumblee, Clemson University

Jeff Plumblee, PhD, MBA is a Research Assistant Professor at Clemson University. Plumblee founded the award winning Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC) in 2009 while pursuing a doctorate in civil engineering. He has helped to grow the organization to 100+ students per semester, including numerous interns living in Haiti year-round. The program has overseen in excess of $2 million in sustainable infrastructure and economic development projects in Haiti. He is currently exploring ways to offer similar opportunities to a wider audience, including bringing the CEDC model into a domestic context, leveraging technology to virtually link students with service-learning opportunities and resources throughout the world, and starting a design challenge for high school students to address the needs of the less fortunate.

David Vaughn, Clemson University
Civil Engineering and Industry Adviser for Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries for over 5 years. He has more than 25 years of project management experience in diverse industries, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, oil and gas, steel mills, microelectronics, water treatment, and contingency operations.  He is a former Fluor Fellow, Director of Resilience Solutions, and Secretariat of the World Economic Forum DRP.  He founded and spearheaded development of Fluor’s Business Continuity and Disaster Management services which helped clients cost-effectively prepare for and mitigate the risk of natural disasters.  Currently he serves as the Industry Adviser for Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC) where he mentors students both in Clemson, SC and in Cange, Haiti using a service learning approach that improves the standards of living in Haiti through sustainable solutions while preparing the students to become useful members of society.


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