BANGKOK, 10 November 2011 - UNICEF is providing more than 300,000 water, hygiene and sanitation items, including bars of soap, chlorine drops for water purification, alcohol hand-wash gel and garbage bags, to flood-affected families in order to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
The locally purchased supplies are being delivered to the affected families via the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). About 27,000 bottles of chlorine drops, each of which can be used to purify 2,000 litres of water, were delivered to MOPH on 9 November, while 7,000 bottles of liquid soap were handed over today. Some 200,000 bars of soap are scheduled to be delivered next week, together with another 33,000 bottles of chlorine drops.
An unusually severe monsoon season resulted in Thailand’s worst flooding in more than 50 years. Large parts of 24 provinces are still inundated with floodwaters, and nearly 3 million people, including more than 800,000 children, are currently affected by the floods.
UNICEF has budgeted $1.2 million to provide emergency relief and post-flood assistance to affected children and families in the areas of health, child protection, water supply and sanitation, hygiene promotion and education. Earlier this week, UNICEF launched a direct mail appeal to its donors in Thailand for funding to support flood response and recovery activities.
“Hygiene and sanitation are always a major concern in any flooding situation,” said Tomoo Hozumi, the UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “Although no outbreaks have been reported so far, contaminated floodwaters can result in water-borne diseases. The risk of these diseases can be reduced through safe sanitation and improved hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing.”
The number of children who have died during the floods is also of concern, Hozumi said. To date, the floods have claimed 533 lives, including 77 children. Most of the child fatalities, 70 per cent of whom were boys aged 0-17, were due to the drowning.
“Children stranded in houses surrounded by water have no space to play, so they end up playing in the water,” Hozumi said. “Since many Thai children do not know how to swim, there is great risk involved.”
UNICEF pamphlets with information on practical and simple actions that families should take to protect the health and general well-being of their children during floods, including the prevention of drowning and other child injuries, have been disseminated to families. Another 300,000 of these pamphlets will be distributed to affected families over the next few days via the MOPH’s village health volunteer network.
UNICEF has supported the establishment of "child friendly spaces” at 40 large evacuation centres to provide safe areas for recreation and psychosocial support activities for children, as well as training on registration of children and prevention of child abuse and exploitation in the centres.
With floodwaters receding in some provinces, UNICEF will be distributing “school in a box” kits to some 1,000 schools severely damaged by the floods. Each kit contains essential learning and teaching materials for up to 80 students, and will be used to get children back to learning in temporary locations while their schools are being repaired and refurbished.
“Getting children back into school and back to a normal routine as soon as possible will help speed their recovery from this disaster,” Hozumi said. “UNICEF wants to do all it can to ensure this.”
UNICEF works in 190 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. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org