LA PAZ/BOLIVIA, 28 February 2007 – Families affected by recent floods in Bolivia, where waters from the Rio Grande and Rio Mamoré continue to rise, face an imminent risk of infectious diseases, UNICEF said today, citing health reports of increased cases of malaria, lashmaniasis, HANTA virus, respiratory infections, skin diseases, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis.
The flooding has affected 67,899 families (more than 300,000 people) in eight of Bolivia’s nine departments, according to Civil Defence sources and information from the UN system. The most affected areas are Santa Cruz and Beni.
UNICEF, in co-ordination with the United Nations System, is supporting humanitarian aid work to provide water, sanitation, food and shelter to the flood victims. UNICEF has provided bags of fortified nutritional biscuits for 3,300 children under the age of five. The biscuits, intended as supplementary foods to what the children are already receiving daily, contain protein, calcium, iron and vitamins C, A, B1, B2, B12, folic acid and zinc. Each family with children under five years old receives a 250-gram bag of biscuits per week.
UNICEF is also contributing to work in the area of water and sanitation. To date 90 tents, 50 portable latrines and 50 garbage containers have been distributed and installed at the improvised shelters. One thousand hygiene kits containing items like soap, toilet paper and toothpaste, have been distributed, along with 20 water analysis kits for detecting faecal contamination of drinking water.
So far, three water tanks have been installed in the improvised shelters and 2,000 hygiene leaflets have been handed out. UNICEF has also performed a census of children and pregnant women sheltered in the improvised shelters, which will help start anti-violence activities within families and promote psychological and emotional recovery. At the moment there are 2,115 children and 84 pregnant women.
The UN issued a call for humanitarian aid on 21 February, requesting that the international community give USD 9.2 million in response to the great number of urgent needs in seven of Bolivia’s nine departments.
Approximately five thousand families are living in temporary shelters throughout the country; 32 shelters in Santa Cruz, 44 in Beni and two in Cochabamba, many of them set up in schools. Some families were forced to flee the rising waters, taking their belongings to the high ground along the roadsides.
UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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