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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

ECHO and UNICEF working together to improve hygiene following tsunami

© UNICEF video
ECHO and UNICEF distribute hygiene kits to families across Indonesia’s Aceh province.

ACEH, Indonesia, 25 February 2005 – Hundreds of thousands of Indonesia’s tsunami survivors are still living in temporary shelters, making the risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases a major concern. Many camps lie in low-lying areas prone to flooding, and some need urgent help in maintaining a supply of clean water. To help the survivors cope, UNICEF and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, or ECHO, have joined forces to improve sanitation and water facilities across Aceh province.

“Simple interventions can actually save a lot of lives and this is something that UNICEF is concentrating on in this particular situation,” says Peter Holdsworth, ECHO’s rapid response coordinator in Indonesia.

© UNICEF video
ECHO and UNICEF hope to help as many as two million people with improved hygiene.

ECHO is funding the distribution of tens of thousands of hygiene kits, which include basic washing necessities such as soap, a towel, a sarong and a toothbrush and toothpaste. ECHO and UNICEF are also supporting efforts to provide drinking water and waste treatment equipment.

Saifuddin and his family, survivors of the tsunami, are among the people benefitting from the ECHO and UNICEF’ partnership. He, his wife and two children share a tent with another family of six on the outskirts of Banda Aceh. The limited space doesn’t bother Saifuddin, but a dearth of washing facilities does. The camp has only a few taps which are often crowded, especially just before prayer times, when people clean up before entering the mosque.

© UNICEF video
ECHO and UNICEF bring clean drinking water to people living in the relief camps.

Saifuddin’s family escaped the tsunami by running up a hill overlooking their village on the Indonesian coast. Fortunately, nearly everyone from the village survived, but their homes were washed away. The second day after the disaster, Saifuddin and many of his fellow villagers were relocated to a small relief camp, which was established surrounding an unfinished mosque.

Saifuddin, who received a hygiene kit from a UNICEF staff member, says a few items can go a long way. “We will use the soap for bathing and for washing clothes. We can even use the sarong as a prayer mat since we don’t have one.” He also wishes that he had more money to buy better food and supplies for his family, especially for his two-year-old son, who has refused to eat plain rice. He still longs for the days before the tsunami, when he had a regular diet of fish.

In partnership with UNICEF, ECHO hopes to help as many as two million people, particularly women and children. It aims to offer healthier living conditions so that struggling families can focus on rebuilding their lives.







25 February 2005:
UNICEF’s Steve Nettleton reports from Banda Aceh on the ECHO and UNICEF partnership’s efforts to bring improved hygiene to children and their families following the tsunami

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