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The National Technical Reference Framework for Potable Water and Sanitation to harmonise and regulate the sector

In 2009, the Haitian state implemented an in-depth reform of the Potable Water and Sanitation sector by setting up the National Directorate for Potable Water and Sanitation (DINEPA). Its principle mission is to regulate the potable water and sanitation sector, develop access to potable water and sanitation and control actors involved in the sector.

 General observation: a wide variety of actors, techniques and materials which compromise the sustainability of works

For a number of years, a large number of international aid organisations have tried to mitigate the difficulties of the state in providing a minimal water service to all Haitian citizens. The earthquake of 12 January 2010 led to an extra influx of humanitarian aid which brought know-how, techniques and materials from many different countries. Before the earthquake some water networks were already out of order following the cyclones of 2007 and 2008 due to lack of maintenance, but also often because of design faults: spare parts, tools or labour were not always available in Haiti to ensure the long term sustainability of systems.

What is more, not all partners in the sector are aware of DINEPA’s national strategies. These may be contradictory to the methodologies or designs usually used by businesses or NGOs. There was not enough sharing of experiences in relation to the numerous programmes implemented, and when this did take place, it did not always reach all actors in the sector.

The DINEPA’s control and regulation role – coordinating organisations, harmonising materials and works, ensuring national strategies were respected - was very difficult to put into practice as it did not have a regulatory tool that it could use. At the end of 2011, it asked the International Office for Water (IOW) to draw up a National Technical Reference Framework for Potable Water and Sanitation which was launched in Port-au-Prince on 22 October 2013.

 A complete and organized collection of documents

A large team of IOW experts was mobilised for 2 years to write this prescriptive and regulatory collection of documents, steered by the DINEPA and UNICEF (who funded the project).

Field visits, meetings with operators from the sector, and reading seminars involving representatives of national institutions, companies and partner NGOs of the DINEPA made it possible to draw up more than 110 documents covering a large range of potable water and sanitation techniques adapted to the Haitian context, including issues such as home chlorination of water, the conversion of international norms for water pipes, collective latrines and the key steps when monitoring a project.


Remise officielle du rapport

Official submission of the report: E. Beigbeder (UNICEF) on the left and L. Duvalsaint (DINEPA) on the right


There are documents for field operators (e.g. kiosk management, procedures for emptying sanitation facilities manually, laying pipes, etc.), documents which specify the minimal requirements for works (design of water and sanitation networks, reservoirs, etc.), as well as the state of the art of certain water and sanitation techniques (preliminary studies, conversion of norms, etc.).

The reference framework takes the form of a portal (CD) which allows documents to be found intuitively, with access by theme (water, sanitation, civil engineering, studies, etc.), and by document code.

The Technical Reference Framework for Potable Water and Sanitation has been designed with a number of objectives:

  • To be realistic and applicable in the field today: The field visits and meetings with operators in Haiti helped to make sure the reference framework was based on the reality on the ground. The steering of the project by the Haitian water institutions and particularly the re-reading by DINEPA and partner organisations, such as the PEPA, confirmed that the recommendations were understood and that they were in keeping with national strategies;
  • To prevent certain practices or the use of non-durable materials in the water and sanitation sector: For example, products which are dangerous for professionals or individuals have been banned (non-standard models of latrines, disinfectant products which are difficult to use, etc.), as well as non-standard practices (methods for emptying sanitation pits, leakage tests, etc.).
  • To achieve longer-term development (10 to 15 years) and therefore implement techniques and methods which are not currently present in Haiti: EcoSan latrines or slow sand filters, for example, are promising techniques but which are limited in their implementation in Haiti (a great deal of social engineering needed). These are therefore described in reference framework files, but are not the object of obligations. In the same way, as collective sanitation is very rare in Haiti, the reference framework covers this topic in terms of the latest methods available, but no prescriptions are made.

During the presentation of the reference framework to organisations involved in water and sanitation, DINEPA may have been worried that certain partners would be on their guard, such as NGOs whose programmes were not in line with the reference framework, businesses who would be worried about not being able to fulfil the minimum requirements or suppliers whose materials did not correspond to DINEPA’s strategy… In reality, as the audience was fully informed about the project and its construction, they were very enthusiastic about it.

For the ministries who were represented, the national technical reference framework for potable water and sanitation is a step forward for the regulation of programmes implemented in Haiti. The NGOs and donors particularly liked the fact that they had a single document to refer to ensure that the programmes they implemented corresponded to the policy for the sector. Even businesses were very in favour of the approach which gives them a way to demonstrate that their know-how is compatible with the demands made of them in DINEPA projects.