Children and women comprise 80 per cent of those affectedKAMPALA, 25 September 2007 – UNICEF today expressed its deep concern over the situation of some 300,000 people affected by flooding in eastern and northern Uganda. The large majority of them are children and women.
The worst flooding to hit Uganda in decades, the aftermath of steady rains since July, has forced an estimated 200,000 people from their homes and in need of immediate, emergency shelter and household items to ward off disease and stave off further casualties. This displacement is in addition to the 110,000 already forced from their homes because of the conflict in northern Uganda, causing a double displacement.
“Many of these children and their families were already vulnerable to natural disasters because of more than 20 years of armed conflict in northern Uganda,” said UNICEF Representative Keith McKenzie. “Basic services, such as access to health facilities and water and sanitation services were already overstretched and have become further disrupted. Flooding has only compounded the risks of disease outbreak, and further limited their access to basic education.”
Specifically, water sources have become contaminated following the collapse of flooded latrines, posing a direct threat to the health of children and their families even when floodwaters recede. Waterborne diseases, malaria and acute respiratory infections have reportedly increased by as much as 30 per cent.
Children have also been forced out of school because of damage to classrooms; this has prevented over 100,000 children from beginning the third term of the academic year.
Emergency response has been hindered by limited access due to damaged, submerged or washed-away roads and bridges, requiring expensive air and boat transport to deliver aid and conduct assessments.
Floods have also washed away many families’ July/August harvest and delayed their next planting, potentially extending the normal hunger season from two to 10 months.
UNICEF urgently requires $7.2 million to continue its lifesaving response. To date, it has provided 1 million measles and 1.2 million polio vaccines as well as emergency and basic drug kits for up to 20,000 people for three months and 17,400 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to prevent malaria.
To address the need for clean water, UNICEF and partners have also distributed 177,000 water purification tablets and conducted education campaigns on hygiene and sanitation. Some 300 tents have been provided to affected schools to be used as temporary classrooms for over 150,000 students. UNICEF is also helping to rehabilitate damaged sanitation equipment in 49 primary schools and will provide emergency latrines in 100 schools to serve both pupils and the local population using the schools as shelter.
For shelter and non-food items, UNICEF has distributed 9,200 family kits consisting of blankets, kitchen utensils, a tarpaulin, collapsible jerry can, soap and other household items.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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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