Oxfam today warned that a disease outbreak is “waiting to happen” unless authorities quickly address the water shortage and hygiene needs at crowded evacuation centres for survivors of flash floods in the Philippines.
Snehal Soneji, Philippines Country Director of Oxfam said: “There is an acute shortage of water supply, containers, and trucking capacity. Although the government, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations are working hard to provide water both for drinking and household use, it is still not enough. Sanitation facilities in evacuation centres are extremely limited . . . A serious disease outbreak is waiting to happen.”
Flash floods caused by tropical storm Washi have badly affected the southern island of Mindanao where more than 1,000 people have lost their lives. The cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan were worst hit by the storm. More than 262,280 people are displaced from their homes.
Oxfam has many years experience working in Mindanao where we run a number of development projects. The agency’s plans are to provide water and sanitation support to around 50,000 people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. This will include distributing hygiene kits and providing access to clean water and latrines.
While Oxfam experts assess needs, the agency has distributed water to about 4,000 families in the two cities.
“People need not only water; they also need immediate shelter and latrines. Without bathrooms, women are finding it hard to maintain personal hygiene. They also face the added burden of caring for sick children. Pregnant women face even more difficult times ahead,” Soneji said.
Eighty percent of Cagayan de Oro has no running water and will remain so for at least a month. Noel Pedrola, Oxfam Humanitarian Officer, said: “This will exacerbate the poor sanitary conditions of evacuation shelters in the days to come, and has wide-ranging implications on public health.”
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