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Central African Republic: Drinking water restored to over 183,000 people ahead of the rainy season

BANGUI, Central African Republic/DAKAR, Senegal 5 March 2014 – Just ahead of the onset of the rainy season, which increases the risk of water-borne diseases like cholera, UNICEF and its partners have restored safe and chlorinated drinking water for more than 183,000 displaced people across the Central African Republic (CAR).

“Access to safe drinking water remains out of reach to many people who have been displaced by the violence,” said UNICEF CAR Representative Souleymane Diabaté. “As the first heavy rains have already begun, standing water and flooding increase the risk of a cholera outbreak.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to diseases related to bad water and inadequate sanitation conditions and reliable supply of safe drinking water is crucial to their survival and well-being.”

More than a year after the beginning of a conflict, many displaced families still have little or no access to safe water and those with access have a fraction of what is needed.

Among the crucial actions UNICEF and its partners have taken in the past two months are the following:

•  Over 72,000 people who fled their homes, leaving everything behind, received soap, jerry cans and information on appropriate hygiene practices, in an effort to prevent the outbreak of contagious waterborne diseases.

•  In the vulnerable Muslim communities of PK5, PK12 and military airport in Bangui, which are surrounded and threatened by anti-Balaka militias, 5,000 displaced people continued to receive emergency provisions of water in the last several months.

•  In Bossangoa, close to 17,000 internally displaced people now have access to over 22 litres of water per person per day after UNICEF helped to restore the facilities of the national water company that were pillaged during the conflict. UNICEF is also working to improve both quantity and quality of water for 352,000 vulnerable people.

•  With help from the European Union’s humanitarian arm, ECHO, UNICEF is also working with partners to increase the water production of the Bangui water treatment plant, restore the municipal water distribution system in Bouar and repair hand pumps, boreholes and wells in the interior of the country, wherever access permits.

“In the interior of the country, many water points have been destroyed or have fallen into disrepair, having had no maintenance for over a year. Whenever possible, we are repairing rather than creating new water points, which is more sustainable than distributing water by trucking,” Diabate added.

In 2014, UNICEF is requesting US$62 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in CAR, which includes US$14 million to cover water, sanitation and hygiene needs.


Notes to editors:

The arrival of the rainy season greatly increases the risk of contamination of water sources especially in areas where people are defecating in the open. Providing access to safe and chlorinated water is at the forefront of UNICEF’s efforts to prevent the outbreak of disease. Chlorination of water is one of the most effective control measures for water-borne bacterial diseases like cholera.

In Bangui, the production of the water treatment plant will be increased by 30 per cent, notably through the provision of spare parts and pumps. UNICEF has also provided water treatment chemicals for 28,000 cubic metres per day during the next three months.

In Bouar, 40,000 people will regain access to drinking water as work is currently underway to restore the municipal water system.

In Bossangoa since 14 February, the population, including at displacement sites, now has access to drinking water through the national water company, which was re-established with help from UNICEF after it was pillaged in September 2013 and fell into disrepair. Previous to that, UNICEF was helping to provide emergency supplies of water through water bladders and trucking.

UNICEF leads through the national coordination of the WASH cluster, which aims to enhance coordination and emergency response. It consists of three government counterparts, 11 national NGOs and 15 International NGOs.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For more information, please contact:

Linda Tom, UNICEF Bangui, Tel : +236 70550210, ltom@unicef.org

Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF Dakar, +221 77 637 66 04, lduvillier@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, Tel: 1-212-326-7452; Cell: 1-917-378-2128; kdonovan@unicef.org




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