Tom NishiumuraJan. 12, 2010, rocked Haiti, literally. With the loss of life estimated at 230,000, the worldwide response to help Haiti has been overwhelming. Even so, the recovery has been slow. To aid in the recovery effort, a delegation of pest management professionals, industry experts and researchers, organized by the National Pest Management Association and the Haitian Minister of the Environment, traveled to Haiti in early May to evaluate and assess the country’s pest issues. The group is in the process of finalizing treatment protocols that will incorporate Integrated Pest Management principles and practices followed in the United States.
Pictures cannot prepare one for the destruction Haiti has suffered. As BASF Market Development Specialist Tom Nishimura describes it, imagine your local strip mall standing one day, then completely flattened the next. The devastation belies the fact that many people may have in fact been in that structure.
“As we traveled around Port au Prince, we were able to catch glimpses of devastation that has brought an end to so many lives and forever changed the landscape of the country,” Nishimura said. “At our first inspection site, a private hospital, an eerie sense of serenity masked what just a few months before was a horrific, chaotic scene. While the main floor remained damaged; the upper story was destroyed.”
The surrounding area is now home to cargo containers, one serving as a makeshift restaurant where patrons find refuge in conversation with each other.
Sanitation issues, collapsed buildings, improper waste disposal and poor sewage systems provide the perfect breeding ground for pests. The more than 1,500 tent cities, where several million of Haiti's nine million people are living, have sorely inadequate sanitation measures, with raw sewage and heavily contaminated water running down the streets.
The pest management industry delegation organized by NPMA. Photo courtesy of NPMA.“The issues in Haiti are immense and difficult to address on a large scale. Our team wanted to come up with a plan that could make a difference in the life of the Haitian people. We were in agreement that such a plan would not be a "quick-fix" but rather a sustainable plan for a better future,” Nishimura said.
The delegation focused on this and felt that hospitals and schools would be best served by the group’s expertise. The initial inspection of the private hospital revealed the diverse technical backgrounds of the team. While some were quick to point out and address rat and mosquito issues, others saw termites, flies and sanitation issues. Overwhelmingly, the team agreed that the sanitation problems, overgrown landscaping, standing water and exclusion areas had to be addressed and resolved before proceeding with any treatment protocols.
“The hospital was also functioning without any protection from the outside world. Bed nets and window screens would be a luxury for these people,” Nishimura said. “These kinds of tangible assets are what the Haitians really need right now.”
The full treatment recommendation will incorporate Integrated Pest Management principles and practices followed in the United States. The service plan will detail all of the necessary action items that must be addressed to bring these institutions up to a more suitable standard. The pest management company involved in executing the plan is Boucard Pest Control & Sanitation, a family-owned and -operated pest management company based in Port au Prince. The company provides waste collection, pest control and fumigation services to businesses and residents in Haiti.
“Boucard’s technicians are very skilled and capable of executing the recommended plan. They’ll also serve as the liaison between NPMA and the Haitian government as we work together on finalizing the recommendations,” Nishimura said.
Secondary to the IPM program is the education and training the NPMA delegation plans to contribute. The group wants a plan that invests in the Haitian people and helps educate them on true health-related issues due to their pest problems and how to avoid future infestations. Training is the essence of the sustainable portion of the delegation’s goal.
“Haiti is in dire need of our help and if the spirit of the Haitian people is any indication of what the country can become, it will be stronger than before,” Nishimura said. “These people want to help themselves; they just don’t have what they need. If we provide the tools and the education they will rebuild a better Haiti."
For more information on NPMA’s efforts to help Haiti, please visit: http://www.npmapestworld.org/Haiti.htm. If interested in learning more on the fact-finding mission in Haiti, visit NPMA’s blog: http://npmablog.wordpress.com. To learn how to be of professional assistance or to donate funds to this initiative, please visit: http://www.npmapestworld.org/Haiti.htm.
For more information on BASF Pest Control Solutions, please visit: www.pestcontrol.basf.us
Editor’s note: PCT will continue to cover NPMA’s trip to Haiti throughout the summer via a variety of articles.