UNICEF provides water and sanitation support to families affected by Tropical Storm Washi

Thursday 22 December 2011, 8:59AM
By UNICEF New Zealand

UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund) is delivering water and sanitation supplies to assist in the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities for 15,000 families affected by the devastating floods in southern Philippines.

The Tropical Storm Washi (local name Sendong) swept through the southern island during the night of 16th December, dropping the equivalent of one month’s rainfall in just one day. The resulting flash floods, which rose very quickly during the night, killed at least 957 people, with at least 49 still missing.

UNICEF is now turning its focus to the estimated 200,000 children affected by the floods, with 20,000 currently in evacuation centres.

“A lack of clean water and sanitation facilities is of great concern at the present time, as we know children are highly vulnerable to diarrhoeal disease and dehydration. UNICEF is on the ground to support the government’s efforts, and is working round the clock to provide for the many children and families affected. We are also carefully monitoring the safety of children in the very overcrowded evacuation centres,” said Anselme Motcho, Acting Head of Office, UNICEF Philippines.

Assessments with other UN and government agencies have revealed urgent needs in the areas of water and sanitation. The water systems of the two main areas affected, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, have been totally destroyed leaving most residents with no safe, reliable source of water. As a result UNICEF has immediately dispatched water kits, hygiene kits, water bladders, temporary pit latrines and mobile water units to the affected area. 200 portalets are also being prepared for dispatch to address the dire need for sanitation facilities.

Additional needs revealed by the rapid assessment are temporary shelter, non-food items such as blankets and mats for sleeping, and child registration and counselling services.

“UNICEF and its partners will stay as long as needed to get these families and communities back on their feet. Whilst our current focus is immediate needs, we will soon be turning our attention to how communities can be better prepared and warned to reduce the risk of disasters, and prevent such a massive loss of life,” said Motcho.