We're the full time in-country directors of Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that works to give Haitian families access to clean water.
The Rollins family live and work in the Haitian countryside, but the husband, Chris, happened to be in Port au Prince the day of the earthquake.
As I read through their recent blog posts, and looked at photographs, and watched videos, it struck me.
The pinch-point for survivors in Port au Prince is, or will be, water. Not water for hygiene, even, but water for survival, for life, for living until tomorrow morning.
People, even very malnourished people, can go for days without food, if they have adequate water. But water..well, daytime temperatures have been in the high 80 degree F since the quake. The bare minimum of water needed by an adult doesn't seem to have much experimental basis (not a surprise, as the experiments to determine lower limits would be inhumane). But...well, one liter (litre) per day may be a low estimate.
There are tens of thousand, if not hundreds of thousands of people now homeless in Port au Prince. Homeless means no way of storing or carrying water, unless it is given out in bottles. But then again, if it is given out in bottles, you have to carry it. Remember the old ditty, "a pint's a pound the world around"? So every liter is about 2 pounds. And if you have water, you are potential victim for every thug who wants to corner the water supply....or even just for somebody else who is desperate for water.
What do relief efforts have to do to meet Port au Prince's water needs? Every day? For every 1,000 people, provide a literal ton of water. The space requirements aren't so daunting -- one cubic meter equals 1,000 liters.
But there aren't 1,000 people or 10,000 people or even 100,000 people in Port au Prince who are without water service or without any objects to collect or store water. The number may be as high as 1,000,000.
I've had a 5 cubic yard box in front of my house, lately. You may have seen them if there are folk renovating in your area. That box, filled with water, would provide for one group of 5,000 people.
The city of Port au Prince needs 200 of those boxes, filled every day. Distributed throughout the city. Which is clogged with debris.
I cannot imagine the suffering of the Haitian people.