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UNICEF Responds to Urgent Water and Sanitation Needs

Solomon Islands Flooding – UNICEF Responds to Urgent Water and Sanitation Needs

Donate at: www.unicef.org.nz/solomon-islands

UNICEF is continuing to coordinate its emergency response with partners and the Solomon Islands Government in order to reach the estimated 52,000 people affected by extreme flooding. With water systems still extensively damaged and almost 10,000 people in evacuation centres, UNICEF’s main concern is ensuring people have clean water and adequate sanitation to prevent the potential spread of disease.

Cases of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection and conjunctivitis have increasingly started to appear and UNICEF’s team on the ground has heard reports of malaria cases. People are at high risk of dengue fever also. Careful surveillance and reporting of all detected cases is necessary to prevent the spread of disease.

While 52,000 people country wide are thought to be affected, little still remains known about people in remote and hard to reach areas. As the lead supporting agency to the Solomon Islands Government for the coordination of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activity, UNICEF’s key priority is to work with partners to urgently get clean water and adequate sanitation to those who need it.

UNICEF has also contributed supplies including water containers, purification tablets, and soap and aided in the development of hygiene messages. More supplies are urgently being shipped to the Solomon Islands.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ said, “Honiara’s infrastructure is extremely damaged and the city’s water system is running at only 40% of capacity, with the quality of the water being a real concern.

“Our staff on the ground tells us that water and sanitation conditions in the 24 Honiara evacuation centres are continuing to deteriorate, as they are just not equipped for the numbers of people using them. Displaced people are mainly from the poor parts of Honiara, areas that were deficient in clean water and sanitation even before the flooding, so this situation is very serious.

“Damaged roads and bridges mean that water and sanitation assessments are still to be carried out in areas outside the evacuation centres in Honiara and other areas of Guadacanal, so we don’t have detailed information as to what people’s needs are in those areas yet.”

As part of the emergency response, additional water and sanitation and child protection staff have also been mobilized from UNICEF Fiji. UNICEF is also involved in education activities and supports health, nutrition, psychosocial support and child protection efforts.

At least twelve schools have been utilised as evacuation centres this week due to school holidays and 23 schools are also reported to have suffered damaged. However, schools are due to reopen on Monday posing serious concerns that children’s education will be jeopardised going forward.

Mr McKinlay added, “Education may not seem like an essential part of an emergency response, but in a disaster like this it is essential to normalise life for kids as soon as possible, as that will help them get over the trauma of what they have experienced.

“Getting kids back to school also allows their essential needs to be met while giving parents the chance to pick up the pieces of their lives, knowing that their kids are safe and looked after.” UNICEF has supplied tents in order to establish child friendly spaces where education can continue, with the hope that schools can re-open as normal on Monday.

UNICEF urgently needs funding of NZ$465,000 (US$400,000) to support our work and meet the most urgent needs. Items such as food and clothing cannot currently be accepted due to the logistical difficulties and costs associated with transporting items to the Solomon Islands.

Donations are urgently needed so UNICEF can provide essential supplies and support the emergency relief effort. To donate go to: www.unicef.org.nz/solomon-islands


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