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Namibia, 29 April 2011: UNICEF distributes emergency supplies for families affected by floods in northern Namibia

A UNICEF staff uploads emergency supplies
© UNICEF Namibia/2011
A UNICEF staff uploads emergency supplies, which will be sent to areas hit hard by the recent floods.

WINDHOEK, Namibia, 29 April 2011 – UNICEF is continuing its relief operation in the North of Namibia, which has been affected by the heaviest rains and worst flooding in 120 years. In cooperation with local authorities UNICEF is distributing emergency supplies including three 10,000 litre and ten 5,000 litre water tanks, 150,000 water purification sachets and 1,000 basic family water kits.

"Ensuring that children and families have access to safe drinking water, as well as to sanitation and hygiene facilities is critical to stop outbreaks of diarrhoea and cholera," said UNICEF Representative Ian MacLeod. "In addition to the distribution of relief items, UNICEF is organizing hygiene education in relocation centres which will reduce the potential of illness and even death, particularly amongst infants and small children."

UNICEF is also delivering 28 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Kits and 18 tents for child-friendly spaces where young children as well as school children receive psycho-social support provided by trained volunteers.

The distribution of humanitarian supplies is part of UNICEF’s response to the national flood emergency that was declared on 29 March by the President of the Republic of Namibia, Hifikepunye Pohamba, to address the large-scale flooding in the Northern and North-Eastern regions of the country (Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango and Caprivi).

UNICEF also deployed Water, Nutrition, Child Health, Education, Child Protection and Coordination Experts to the affected areas. The experts are working in coordination with local government authorities and other relief organizations.

It has been the second time in three years that Namibia has declared a national flood emergency. The extensive flooding is affecting more than 220,000 people out of a total population of 2.1 million. About 30,000 people have been displaced and 200 schools had to be closed down temporarily, affecting over 80,000 children.

 “We are working to support the Ministry of Education to offer alternative safe locations for classrooms," said UNICEF's Ian MacLeod. "We are also purchasing cleaning materials to ensure that once schools are accessible they can be rapidly cleaned up and made hygienic.”

With the water levels subsiding, stagnating surface water from the floods poses a serious health risk to children and their families, with at least 300 suspected cases of malaria in one region alone as well as 3,000 cases of diarrhoea and 51 suspected cases of measles, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Extensive damage to roads and other vital infrastructure has cut off many people from essential services. Figures from Ministry of Health show that 29 per cent of health facilities and 51 per cent of outreach centres in the most affected regions are not accessible.

For further information, on the situation, please contact:

Juditha Leketo Matjila, Communication Specialist, Tel +264 61-2046253, or Mobile (264-81127 5967)

Michael Klaus, Regional Chief of Communication, Tel (254-20)7622214 or Mobile (254-716 431880)



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