Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Disease threatens Banda Aceh

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Indonesia/2005/Nettleton
A young girl is washed by her mother at an emergency relief camp in Banda Aceh

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 19 January 2005 – Sanitation conditions in relief camps in Banda Aceh have deteriorated since the tsunami hit the area in late December. UNICEF officers in the city say the situation has created an ideal breeding ground for waterborne disease, like diarrhoea and cholera, which have the potential to spread quickly and be lethal to children.

UNICEF Water and Sanitation officer Manuel Freitas has been monitoring the latrines and water systems of crowded makeshift relief camps in the city. Many of the more than 100,000 displaced people are still living in the mosques, schools and public spaces where they initially took refuge.

In Banda Aceh, once home to approximately 230,000 people, much of the water infrastructure was destroyed.  Aid agencies say only 30 percent of the water supply is getting through the system.

The situation is particularly critical at some emergency camps, where thousands of displaced families are concentrated in small areas littered with waste and a shortage of toilets. Recent heavy rains have provided natural breeding grounds for mosquitoes and several cases of malaria have been reported.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Indonesia/2005/Nettleton
Poor sanitation conditions plague some camps for homeless families in Banda Aceh

UNICEF is coordinating the water and sanitation relief efforts by the international community, and supporting the construction of latrines, distribution of hygiene kits and the installation of water treatment plants.

“The first phase is meeting the emergency needs in these temporary camps, but over the next few months as people now move to new more permanent structures we must make they have adequate supplies of safe water and sanitation” says Frietas.

The tsunami also took a heavy toll on Banda Aceh’s public works personnel. The Ministry of Public Works, which serves the city’s sanitation facilities, is only just re-establishing its office. They, like many government offices, were located in a badly hit part of town. The ground floor of the two story building, formerly an office for 200 and built twelve years ago, was completely flooded, destroying all their computers, records and data.

As a crucial ally, UNICEF is working closely with the Provincial Ministry to help make them fully operational again. During the months it will take to do that, UNICEF and its partners are working to provide temporary and medium-term assistance that will ensure better sanitation and limit the spread of disease.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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19 January 2005: Steve Nettleton reports from Banda Aceh on UNICEF’s work improving sanitation conditions and preventing the spread of disease

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