Corruption and Sanitation Crisis in Dominican Republic by Breanna Jayne Whiting

Living in a privileged country can make it difficult to fathom the quandaries a third world country experiences daily. In the Dominican Republic, something that takes little thought for Americans is a deadly obstruction many Dominicans are unable to overcome, obtaining clean water. Government corruption is one of the primary causes for low sanitation and water cleanliness. Many awful diseases, infections, and side effects come from dirty water, even without direct consumption, resulting in high mortality rates for adults and more so for children and infants.

The Dominican Republic has a national mortality rate of 33%, but in provinces like Independencia, the conditions are even worse ( It costs the average Dominican in poverty stricken areas 80 cents to have clean water every two to three days, but the average family makes an estimated five dollars a day. If they can’t afford that, they are required to use the free, government-provided water tank. Unfortunately, these tanks are not secure, and small birds often fly into the tanks through small holes and die, contaminating the water supply. David Perez Julis, mayor of the municipal district, says, “At times, some women have come to me and told me, ‘I turned the faucet on in my house to drink water and I saw small birds and water insects,’” ( The Dominicans in areas like Independencia often get a repulsive mixture of dirt, insects, and decomposing bird parts in their drinking water. Fortunately, an American nonprofit organization builds water purifying systems that costs the population less than three cents per gallon, but not every village has Americans willing to put forth money and energy into building water purifiers. Adults, and infants die very easily under these deplorable conditions without pure water because affordable treatment is rarely available, and highly contagious diseases are easily contracted.

Waterborne illnesses are very easily contracted through contaminated water, especially if an animal dies in the water supply. Commonly contracted diseases from drinking contaminated water include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, and Typhoid fever, but diseases such as Schistosomiasis and Leptospirosis can be contracted just by touching contaminated water. Leptospirosis and Typhoid fever in particular commonly infect infants, and they often cannot survive the diagnosis due to fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Many of these diseases can be treated or prevented completely with vaccines, but the costs to live healthily are expensive. Though there have been improvements in healthcare, water purity, and sanitation over the years, this is due mostly to nonprofit organizations and private donors directly to cities and villages rather than the government. The national problem resides heavily within the Dominican Republic’s corrupt government stealing funds meant to help their people.

The national government in the Dominican Republic is full of corruption. According to, “theft of public funds has been the main cause of the increase in poverty and extreme poverty in which millions of Dominicans live.” The Dominican Republic’s government has prioritized bribery and has 70/100 points on the World Data chart for corruption. Over a dozen officials have accepted at least $92 million in bribes since 2001. The citizens are outraged and have taken action in the form of protests against corruption and the theft of public funds. Franiel Genao, a protester, told TeleSUR, “We are tired of political thieves and criminals stealing our money that should be invested in public policies, education, health, housing… That’s why we’re protesting.” Aware of this corruption, water providers often resort to extortion and bribery and even increase the price an additional 30-45 cents, knowing how desperate families are to give their loved ones clean water. There are little national policies for water sanitation, and there are many conflicting agencies with overlapping activities.

A variety of jurisdictions has proven very ineffective and the national standards are barely enforced. Only 27% of all sustaining measures involving sanitation have moderate levels of implantation, and the other 73% have no plan or low levels of implantation ( There is no plan or policy for water sanitation in schools nor an infection control plan, making schools an excellent area for illness to spread. While there may be minor developments in sanitation and water purity, no financial plan exists, which makes it very difficult for any progression to take place. Though no easy solution for water purity and sanitation is available, a unity in the many health services would make an excellent start. A simple act the services could implant includes creating free public classes promoting ways to self-purify water and maintaining hygiene; this would ignite a fight against the many spreading illnesses. Implementing new national policies for waste management, sanitation, and drinking water, as well as developing a financial plan that is well kept, is the most effective course of action, but this all begins with ridding the corruption. The Dominicans must continue protesting and seeking new leadership for their country.

Ultimately, change relies on the population to continue fighting. As the people’s needs are expressed and the entirety of corruption is exposed, they can begin to find ways to eradicate it. The population must press the health services and governments to create national policies and enforce existing policies while simultaneously monitoring financial factors. When the population, health services, and local and national governments begin to work together, sanitation and water purity will increase steadily, and an end will come to the epidemic of appalling sanitary conditions and contaminated water.

Works Cited

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Dominicantoday. “Dominican Republic: Enough Corruption Already.” DominicanToday, already/.

e.V., Transparency International. “Water.” Corruption by Topic – Water,

GLAAS. “Dominican Republic Highlights.” UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water, World Health Organization 2018, 2018, water_sanitation_health/monitoring/investments/country-highlights-2017/dominican- republic-glaas2017-country-hihghlight-20181029.pdf?ua=1.

INZAURRALDE, BASTIEN. “Dirty and Dangerous Water Threatens Country’s Health.” Stateless in the Dominican Republic,

“Masses March Against Corruption In Dominican Republic.” GAN Integrity, 13 Aug. 2018, republic/.

“Water Supply and Sanitation in the Dominican Republic.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 June 2019, Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_the_Dominican_Republic.

Photo by Juan Fernandez on Unsplash