Tag Archives: Red Cross

Music for Life 2011 – “We do give a shit”

Radio Brussel - Music for Life 2011 logo
This month, Belgian radio station Studio Brussel is partnering with the Red Cross to raise money for WASH projects in Nepal.

Traditionally, the radio station’s annual “Music for Life” Christmas fundraiser focuses on a “silent disaster”. The theme for 2011 is diarrhoea, together with pneumonia, the leading cause of death for children under the age of five.

Radio Brussel produced this hard-hitting promo video.

The Dutch text reads:

Not every child is lucky enough to become 5 years old
Diarrhoea is the world’s biggest cause of death
for children between 0 and 5 years old.

Continue reading

Haiti: six months on, Red Cross calls for urgent sanitation solution

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in a report published [on 8 July 2010], has called on the international community to recognize sanitation as one of the priorities in Haiti’s reconstruction.

The report – From sustaining lives to sustainable solutions: the challenge of sanitation in Haiti – calls sanitation the “neglected twin” of water provision in the aftermath of disasters.

“Equal emphasis must be given both now and in the future to improving sanitation facilities,” it says, noting that resources and innovative solutions are urgently needed to support Haitian authorities to provide improved sanitation services to the 2 million people affected by the quake.

Matthias Schmale, the IFRC’s Under Secretary General for programme services said: “Looking to Haiti’s future, we need the international community to get behind sanitation and support the Haitian authorities. The sanitation situation in Haiti was already dire before the earthquake and this disaster was as bad as it gets. There is a huge opportunity to make a difference, but we have to take action now to build sanitation into the plans for Haiti’s future.

“Simply returning to pre-earthquake levels of sanitation would be unacceptable.”

The report outlines the long-term challenges and opportunities to improve pre-disaster sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, the only country in the world where access to improved sanitation had decreased in recent years: before the earthquake, only 17 per cent of the population had access to a toilet [according to UNICEF].

The Red Cross and Red Crescent, led by the Haitian Red Cross, has, to date, built almost 2,700 latrines in camps across Port-au-Prince, and each day produces and distributes 2.4 million litres of clean water – enough for 280,000 people. However, despite considerable achievements, at least half of the directly affected population are yet to see any improvement in their sanitation and water situation.

“Six months after the earthquake, the Red Cross Red Crescent and other humanitarian agencies continues to provide a large proportion of water and sanitation services on behalf of the Haitian authorities,” said Gianluca Salone, IFRC water and sanitation coordinator in Haiti.

“However, this is a much broader urban reconstruction issue that falls outside the capacity and remit of humanitarian agencies. We are all stretched to our capacity and are simply containing a critical situation, rather than solving it. From now on sanitation must be integrated into wider plans to rebuild Haiti and long-term solutions must be found.”

The IFRC believes that the situation is untenable. It is calling for the development of innovative, sustainable and appropriate technological systems that, dependent on the availability of land, will give large numbers of Haitian people safe and reliable sanitation for the years to come.

As the reconstruction effort continues, the focus is shifting to ensuring that those returning to their homes or moving to transitional shelters will have access to adequate sanitation. The integration of sanitation into reconstruction plans is critical for a healthy future.

The report also highlights some potential longer-term solutions that could help stimulate Haiti’s economy as well as address the challenges of waste management and sanitation. For example, research into the viability of large-scale waste composting and biogas production could provide dual benefits such as energy production, or boosting agricultural activity. Scoping out such solutions needs input from the international community to help build the capacity of Haiti’s authorities.

Led by the Haitian Red Cross, the Red Cross Red Crescent to date has provided medical treatment for 95,000 people, vaccinated more than 150,000 against measles, diphtheria and rubella, and provided 120,000 families – almost 600,000 people – with emergency shelter material.

Related web site: IFRC – Haiti Earthquake

Source: IFRC, 08 Jul 2010

Haiti: Red Cross joins international organizations in hygiene drive as rains intensify

The Haitian Red Cross Society (HRCS) joined international NGOs working in water and sanitation in Haiti [on 25 May 2010] to stage a special street event opposite Port-au-Prince’s Place Saint-Pierre camp, where an estimated 6,000 people settled after the 12 January disaster.

HRCS volunteers led a crocodile of some 300 children from the camp around the Place Saint-Pierre square in Pétionville to where an interagency health promotion fair was held in tented stands.

The event was organized by the Hygiene Promotion sub-cluster and included groups like Oxfam and Save the Children.

According to Pauline Mwaniki, coordinator of the sub-cluster, “the fact that there has been no major outbreak of disease is partly due to humanitarian agencies’ efforts to spread hygiene messages.”

“With the rainy season intensifying,” Mwaniki added, “the risks are increasing though due to overcrowding in the camps so we are planning to launch a nationwide health awareness campaign.”

Storm drain

Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death of children under five in Haiti. Even before the earthquake, children could expect to fall ill between four and six times a year.

“There is diarrhoea in the camps but our hygiene promotion messages are helping in the fight against the disease, ” said HRCS health coordinator Sherley Bernard, who helped lead the children in songs and dances intended to convey key health messages in a fun way.

“Now that the rainy season has really started, we have to intensify our efforts to ensure camp communities practise good personal hygiene and that they know how to store water safely and dispose of waste.”

The Place Saint-Pierre camp was one of the first in the immediate aftermath of the quake to receive worldwide publicity about its insanitary, overcrowded conditions.

A week after the quake, French television reported from the camp that the focus on providing immediate medical care to victims meant hygiene had to “take a backseat”.

Things are better there now but still far from perfect. People have safe water, but as Friday’s event got underway women stripped to the waist bathed standing up in the newly dug storm drain surrounding the camp.

Hardware

Workers from Save the Children engage children from Place Saint-Pierre camp in Pétionville, Port-au-Prince, in games about key hygiene practices including hand-washing with soap. Photo: José Manuel Jiménez

Led by Red Cross volunteers and staff from the organizations taking part, children from Place Saint-Pierre camp took to the streets to sing about how washing hands with soap and water can save lives.

Amongst them was Milien Robenson, 13, whose family has been living in the camp since their house collapsed.

“It is really good to be able to sing and play games,” he said, “as it takes my mind off the earthquake and I no longer feel so afraid.”

Mothers came from the Place Saint-Pierre camp to hear how washing hands with soap after going to the toilet or before handling food and babies can prevent diarrhoea.

At the Pétionville event, mothers were given a bar of soap to encourage healthy behaviour, but organizers said the biggest challenge is matching messages with actual hardware like drains, toilets and washing facilities.

“We have an integrated approach,” said Gaelle Fohr, an International Federation health promotion delegate, who also spent the day at Place Saint-Pierre.

“In each of the camps where we organize health promotion activities, we also provide water, sanitation and health services.”

So far more than 150,000 people have been reached with hygiene promotion work in more than 100 camps where HRCS volunteers work with the International Federation and National Societies.

Flag day

Twenty-three-year old volunteer Jeanne Jaboin is a trained nurse and works for the French Red Cross in several camps.

Like many of the volunteers she also lost her house in the earthquake and is living with her husband and three children in a makeshift camp by the sea.

“In my camp there are no latrines and the water gets easily contaminated,” says Jaboin, “but at least I can use what I’ve learnt as a Red Cross volunteer to help my community stay healthy and avoid disease.”

Even though some of the HRCS volunteers lost homes, family and livelihoods, they remain committed to helping others less fortunate than themselves.

Saturday’s event had been originally planned for Haitian flag day on 18 May – the anniversary of the adoption of the country’s flag, made from the red and blue of the French tricolour, but it had to be postponed.

“Even at this difficult time we are proud to be Haitians,” said Bernard, “and as Red Cross volunteers we want to do everything we can to contribute to our country’s recovery.”

Source: Claire Doole, IFRC, 25 May 2010

Afghanistan: UNICEF and Red Cross hygiene promotion activities

Since 2001, Afghanistan has seen tremendous progress, including increased access to safe water in schools, targeted sanitation training, additional community water facilities and the adoption of a new national policy on hygiene. However, more remote areas of the country still face roadblocks to access by aid organizations.

UNICEF has set up a partnership with the Afghan Government to develop sustainable, community-based solutions. Schools and health centres are key entry points. Providing water points and gender-specific latrines results in better health for all, as well as increasing the enrolment of young girls in primary schools.

[…] UNICEF supports women’s literacy initiatives, specifically targeting internally displaced persons and returnees. And UNICEF-sponsored ‘Behaviour Change Committees’ teach populations about safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

Another UNICEF-sponsored project in Afghanistan, the ‘Healthy School Initiative’, aims not only to improve the learning environment for children but also to teach them valuable lessons they can share with their families at home. Students are taught the correct way to brush their teeth and wash their hands with soap and water, as well as basic first-aid training.

In the schools, the initiative provides students with drinking water and latrines, de-worming tablets and safe play areas where they can interact with their peers without fear of encountering a landmine.

Source: David Koch, UNICEF, 12 Mar 2009

At a press conference on 24 March 2009, Adrian Edwards, Senior Spokesman of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), reported that in 2009 “UNICEF is aiming to select a village in each province of Afghanistan to showcase how a community can help ensure everyone adopts clean sanitation and hygiene practices”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that its water engineers are working closely with the local water authorities on a range of urban and rural programmes. Hygiene promotion sessions are conducted in madrasas, hammams (bath houses) and other public places, as well as with families in their homes. [In March 2009] the ICRC water and habitat teams carried out:

  • an urban project to supply water to 12,000 people in Heart;
  • hygiene sessions for over 2,571 people from vulnerable communities in urban areas of Herat, Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar;
  • improvements to the water supply and sanitation systems in one district and two provincial prisons. A total of 648 detainees will benefit from these programmes;
  • six rural water supply projects in villages in Bamyan, Herat and Mazar provinces to provide safe water for 22,063 beneficiaries
  • some of the planned rehabilitation of Mirwais hospital infrastructure in Kandahar.

Source: ICRC, 16 Apr 2009

Viet Nam: school toilets inadequate

Ngo Doan Huan is very proud of the school he is managing in the remote northern province of Lai Chau’s Tam Duong District, but the toilet is another story. More than 150 students in his two-storey school campus in Bo Village have to share a narrow double-tank latrine in which the dung is kept for fertiliser, 200m from classrooms and the river. “The toilets are not enough for all students so many of them have to defecate and urinate outdoors,” principal Huan said.

It’s the same situation for 300 students in other campuses of Ban Bo Primary School as well as thousands of students in Lai Chau and other mountainous provinces. […] Schools had upgraded classrooms and other infrastructure but hadn’t upgraded toilets. Many schools actually didn’t have toilets so students had to use toilets in local people’s houses. “That’s one reason many girl students quit schools,” said [vice chairwoman of the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children’s Affairs, Ngo Thi Minh].

[A] Red Cross survey at 187 primary schools in four provinces in central Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, and two in the north named Dien Bien and Lai Chau showed 88 per cent of the schools needed help to build clean water tanks and toilets.

[…] Under the “Nutrition and Hygiene Education” project funded by the US Department of Agriculture and implemented by the Viet Nam Red Cross societies in remote regions of the country, financial aid will be provided to improved sanitation at 166 schools in poor provinces, including the construction or upgrading of 130 toilet blocks and 130 wells.

[…] But improving sanitation was only part of the problem [as] schools in mountainous regions also were short of classrooms, especially for pre-school kids, clean water supply systems and community based boarding systems. And many remote schools didn’t have access to the project because of transport difficulties.

Source: VNS, 11 Feb 2009

Congo: Red Cross sets sights on cholera

The lack of clean drinking water and proper hygiene fuelled the spread of cholera in the south and southwest of the Republic of Congo [Brazzaville], says the Congolese Red Cross, which has just completed a campaign to teach people how to recognise and stem the spread of the disease.

[B]y the end of November [2008], 127 cases of the disease and three deaths had been registered [and] at least 22 other cases have been reported in the Kinkassa area and in the Pool region, which surrounds the capital, Brazzaville.

[…]

“In the affected zones, most people have no latrines and they defecate in the grass or near their homes. They have no access to clean water and simply drink untreated water from lakes or rivers,” said [Yvette Mbazo’o Mve of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)].

[..] The Congolese Red Cross mobilised 120 volunteers to carry out a public awareness campaign between July and December [2008] on the dangers of cholera and how to avoid it. “This was done through theatre, sketches and picture boxes,” said Mbazo’o Mve.

Due to this campaign, the number of latrines in Loudima [pop. 10,500] has now risen [from 458] to 1,222 , and locals have built around 400 rubbish pits.

[…] China recently agreed to provide four million dollars to build up the water distribution network in the northern town of Ogo, which has a population of 10,000.

Source: IRIN, 12 Dec 2008

Nepal: unsafe drinking water and sanitation in jails

The National Human Rights Commission Regional Office Banke has demanded an explanation from the chief district officer and jail administration on the issue of the 85 prisoners in Bardiya jail who are compelled to drink arsenic contaminated water. The Commission asked why no alternative source of drinking water was found for the prisoners despite the fact that 60 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic [water with more than 50 ppb is unfit for drinking] was detected in all five tube wells installed for them.

Nepal Water Supply Corporation and Nepal Red Cross Society Bardiya Chapter tested water of the tube wells in Bardiya jail recently. They have urged the prisoners not to drink contaminated water of the tube wells. But, the jail administration stated that it is incapable to manage alternative source of water in the jail

Source: Naya Patrika / NGO Forum, 11 Aug 2008 ; Naya Patrika / NGO Forum, 29 Jul 2008

Prisoners, as well as prison officials, in Khandbari prison, Sankhuwasabha, have been suffering from diarrhoea and dysentery for a week due to the lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation. management of waste within the jail.

Source: NGO Forum, 15 Aug 2008

Prisoners in Kanchanpur prison are luckier. They now have access to safe drinking water after the International Red Crross constructed a 5,000 litre-tank water tank in the prison.

Source: Gorkhapatra / NGO Forum, 14 Aug 2008