LA PAZ, March 5 2007 – Recent analyses show that 40 per cent of flood victims in the municipality of Trinidad, in the Amazonian Department of Beni, are children living with their parents in provisional shelters set up in public schools or inhabiting tents on roadsides in outlying areas and rural communities.
According to data collected by local UNICEF personnel and official information provided by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), there are a total of 13,330 people who have been affected by the swelling and overflowing of the Río Mamoré in the municipal area of Trinidad; of this number 5,332 are children under 12 years of age.
In the schools that are functioning as provisional shelters, there are 6,329 flood victims, of which 2,531 are children. In the tents set up along the sides of the road and peripheral neighbourhoods there are 1,504 children living with their parents.
In the rural communities of Puerto Varador, Puerto Almacén and Puerto Ballivián, which form part of the municipality of Trinidad, the number of flood victims has reached 3,240, of which 1,296 are children.
“The high percentage of girls and boys that are suffering from the floods in the city of Trinidad means that we need to concentrate our emergency response efforts on maintaining health, ensuring protection and promoting children’s return to classes,” stated UNICEF Bolivia Representative Gordon Jonathan Lewis during his visit to Trinidad last Saturday.
Departmental Health Service (SEDES) authorities have prioritised medical attention to children, in the affected urban centres and rural communities. The most common illnesses among children are respiratory and digestive or diarrhoeal diseases. So far, there have been no serious cases reported and the sanitary alert is being kept up.
In the shelters and outlying areas, children and parents alike are receiving three daily rations of food prepared in large communal pots which have been provided by the Prefecture and the Municipality.
On Saturday 3 March, a UN System Mission headed by Resident Co-ordinator Antonio Molpeceres, UNICEF Representative, Gordon Jonathan Lewis, and WFP Representative, Vitoria Ginja, visited the city of Trinidad along with teams of national and international journalists in order to contact local authorities and check on the emergency response activities that have been carried out to date.
During a UN mission to Trinidad on 3 March, Lewis visited a shelter at the Juana Azurduy School, where 250 people, of which 93 are children under 12 years old, are being temporarily housed. There he met with the Protection Brigades made up of staff from Trinidad’s departmental and municipal education boards (SEDUCA) and protection services (SEDEGES); these brigades carry out daily education and recreation activities with the children and adolescents.
“UNICEF is committed to providing the children who have been affected by the floods the option to participate in activities that will help them gradually return to their regular daily activities,” stated the UNICEF Representative.
Lewis also visited the shelters located just outside Trinidad in Puerto Almacén and Puerto Varador, where UNICEF has installed two 2000-litre water storage tanks.
UNICEF has provided assessment to the Subterranean Water Project (PROASU) of the Santa Cruz Department Prefecture. This project is also sponsored by JICA, and in the last several weeks has performed 23 separate water quality analyses in the affected rural areas. The preliminary results show that contamination levels are low and that the water is fit for human consumption.
UNICEF distributed 280 hygiene kits, 20 garbage cans and 200 posters to camps in Yapacani and Okinawa to promote good hygiene habits. Health Service staff were also trained on rapid evaluation of water and sanitation conditions at the shelters and schools.
On Saturday 3 March, a campaign with three radio spots on good water, hygiene and sanitation habits was launched to respond to the flood emergency in the Departments of Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando. The broadcasts are going out over the ERBOL radio network in three languages: Spanish, Quechua and Guaraní.
UNICEF works in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and progress in life, from infancy to adolescence. UNICEF is the largest provider of vaccines to the world’s poorest countries, also providing support through childhood health and nutrition, quality water and sanitation, and basic education for all children. UNICEF also works to protect children against violence, exploitation and AIDS and is totally financed by voluntary contributions from individuals, companies, foundations and governments.
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