Friday, August 21, 2015

Partnerships in early recovery work with WASH

By Theingi Soe, UNICEF Water and Sanitation (WASH) Specialist

Young people in Ayeyarawaddy Region are struggling to stay afloat, with muddy water inundating all sources for drinking and bathing
©UNICEF Myanmar/2015/Theingi Soe

Ayeyarawaddy Region Myanmar - 17 August 2015: Assessing the flood situation in Ayeyarawaddy Region, my UNICEF colleagues and I visited seven townships and found all the water sources inundated with mud. Before the floods, people here used to get all their drinking water from the boreholes and hand dug wells. Now they must drink bottled water as the well water is unsafe for drinking or bathing. If people bathe in this dirty water, they can get scabies and other skin diseases.

People in Ayeyarwaddy were glad to see us and asked us for assistance so they could return to their homes. Speaking with families and children affected by the flooding we were able to gather information that is essential in planning the most effective responses, based on the needs of the local communities. UNICEF is working closely with the Myanmar government to coordinate immediate relief work.

I was impressed by the large number of local well wishers offering their assistance to flood-affected families. It revealed to me a strong community spirit, with people
showing kindness and concern by donating property. They seemed to be saying, “ We are together with you. You are not alone.”

Local authorities say even greater challenges will be faced during the next phase of early recovery work. A massive clean up job is required to get things back to normal. 

Cleaning out wells is a top priority, with around 20,000 wells and boreholes currently immersed under filthy water. Thick muddy sediment, in some places over one foot deep, needs to be scraped out of schools and health centres and houses.

Reconstructing latrines is another huge task. Health awareness teams are working to disseminate messages to prevent water-related diseases. Lime to disinfect latrines, bleaching powder to clean out wells and water purification tablets are on the way to the people of Ayeyarwaddy delta.

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