OFIS expertise made available to Médecins Sans Frontières

The NGO, which operates hospitals in Haiti, relies on OFIS' skills sponsorship to treat contamination in water networks.

Sanitary engineering, a long-standing OFIS skill, is invaluable. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), via its partner the Veolia Foundation, has called on OFIS experts in sanitary water systems. Objective: to treat contamination in a hospital in Haiti.

Haiti is going through a dark period, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is doing its part by continuing to operate care centers in the country. In the Tabarre and Drouillard districts, the NGO continues to help the wounded, the sick and the patients who are pouring in from all sides. It also continues to maintain quality of service by monitoring the water systems in these hospitals, which are contaminated by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

"This fairly common bacterium lives in the biofilm* of water pipes, which makes it difficult to eradicate", explains Jean-Michel Mathiot. Engineer and OFIS project manager, Jean-Michel Mathiot, is also a volunteer with the Veolia Foundation. What's involved? A commitment to the Group's corporate foundation, leading to skills sponsorship. With the agreement of their superiors, employees make their expertise available to humanitarian organizations during their working hours.

The collaboration between OFIS and MSF dates back to 2023. Marine Mudry, WASH (Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) Referent, is looking for solutions to put an end to contamination of the networks of the two hospitals. The Veolia Foundation drew on the Group's business expertise and identified OFIS as the solution to the problem. They already had a good understanding of the problem," recalls Jean-Michel Mathiot. Several actions had been taken, but without succeeding in putting a complete stop to the contamination. By talking with us, the idea was to unblock situations, find solutions and validate actions that represented expenses for MSF."

To ensure that the best options were proposed, Jean-Michel Mathiot brought another OFIS expert, Benjamin Midena, into the loop. Analytical monitoring models are drawn up, the Foundation supports the approach by sending a flowmeter to Haiti, and a sampling plan is proposed. "We developed a sampling strategy to determine the perimeter of the contamination", explains Benjamin Midena.

Opposite her, Marine Mudry sends plans and photos to help the experts understand the layout of the network. Benjamin Midena also calls on a manufacturer he knows in the West Indies to help him understand the climatic conditions in Haiti. "Technically, being in a tropical zone changes things a bit. But we had the experience of an intervention in New Caledonia (Nouméa) which enabled us to adapt."

A few months later, Benjamin Midena observes that "the cooperation went smoothly, enabling us to be fairly responsive and to devote a little time on a regular basis, without determining in advance a number of man-days that might have been difficult to reconcile with the daily workload."

The aim is to set up a treatment protocol, whether one-off or ongoing. Discussions are still ongoing, and the Veolia experts are continuing their mission with a watchful eye on the implementation and the requirement to remain available to remove any technical stumbling blocks.
* Biofilms are deposits that form naturally in drinking water distribution networks.

By drawing on the expertise of the Veoliaforce network, we can call on experts who are highly specialized in their field, and save a lot of time. Discussions are efficient and focused on the solutions to be implemented. It's invaluable. Because we never forget that behind our water quality issues, there are patients in a hospital who are impacted.
Marine Mudry
WASH (water, hygiene and sanitation) referent, MSF
I was quite impressed by the ability of the local teams and MSF to devote time to monitoring water quality to exacting standards in a context, such as Haiti, where other imperatives, notably security, can take precedence.
Benjamin Midena
Head of sanitary network assessments, OFIS