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Zambian Floods Prompt UNICEF To Hand Out $1M Aid

Zambian floods prompt UNICEF to hand out $1 million of emergency aid

22 February 2008 - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will provide over $1 million worth of emergency assistance to about 70,000 Zambian families whose homes have been washed away during deadly recent flooding that has also devastated crop harvests.

Tents, school supplies and basic household items are among the materials that UNICEF will distribute across Zambia, the agency said in a press statement released today in Lusaka, the capital.

UNICEF is working to ensure that latrines are limed and shallow wells buried to avoid outbreaks of cholera, while chlorine, water purification tablets, collapsible water tanks and soap are also being distributed.

Claudia Hudspeth, the agency's Emergency Coordinator, warned that as floodwaters recede, the risk of outbreaks of diarrhoea, cholera, malaria and other infectious diseases increases, particularly given the presence of contaminated wells and stagnant water sources.
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"Urgent action is crucial to prevent outbreaks of disease, which are of great concern at the onset of a crisis, especially among children," she said.

The recovery operation is complicated by the high prevalence rates of HIV in some of the most flood-affected provinces, such as Lusaka and Southern, and UNICEF warned that anti-retroviral therapy and HIV prevention messages must continue to be available.

The agency's officials added that more help is on the way, in the form of therapeutic milk supplies for severely malnourished children and emergency kits - which include a jerry cans, cooking pots, a bucket and other essential household items - being flown in from neighbouring Malawi.

Zambia is one of a handful of southern African countries to have been hard hit by flooding this season, along with Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It also suffered from major inundations last year. An estimated 45 per cent of this year's crop harvest in Southern Province has been lost so far this season.

ENDS

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