Tag Archives: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Haiti: international aid efforts moving slowly but surely

Sanitation conditions in Haiti are gradually improving thanks to the efforts of aid workers following the earthquake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince on 12 January 2010. However, progress has been slow and there are many obstacles that still need to be overcome.

As of 31 January 2010, the damage from the earthquake has left 112,405 dead, 196,595 injured and over 11 million people homeless, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Haitian capital lacks sewerage infrastructure and the earthquake ruptured the city’s water lines. Garbage is also accumulating in the streets which is exacerbating the health risks.

The WASH Cluster is now reaching 500,000 people with 5 litres per person per day, according to the DFID situation report of 2 February 2010. With water provision now adequate, sanitation is the next priority. The cluster reports that 7,000 latrines are needed. A distribution plan for 1,169 latrine slabs has been agreed with partners in Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Jacmel.

UNICEF video on emergency water and sanitation in Haiti

The WASH Cluster Haiti Update of 30 January 2010 reports that 292 latrines have been completed or are under construction across the country, serving a potential 29,000 people assuming 1 latrine serves 100 people. The Sanitation Strategic Working Group composed of the WASH Cluster, UNICEF, Oxfam, Care, World Vision, ACF and ICRC are proposing the use of portable chemical toilets through a joint venture between a local sanitation firm and Armal Inc.

Slow Progress

Action Against Hunger (ACF) is distributing potable water and food, although the recovery process is moving slowly, according to Lucile Grosjean from ACF in Haiti. “There is garbage everywhere,” Grosjean said.

The local government did not allow ACF or any organization to dig trenches in the Haitian capital’s central plaza, the Champs de Mars, said Grosjean. These trenches were to be used to dispose of the accumulating waste and human feces of between 20,000 and 25,000 people which have congregated in the area.

As a result, ACF has started to build above-ground latrines and began digging trenches to install the latrines in the Croix Deprez area, according to Grosjean.

At the same time, International Migration Organization (IOM) is distributing tents, hygiene kits, blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheeting, water bladders and water purifying kits, donated by the US, Japanese and Turkish governments. These efforts are expected to benefit some 26,000 people, IOM reported on its website.

Meanwhile, international aid organization Care is distributing hygiene kits and training survivors to purify contaminated water.

Care representatives are showing people how to use the purifying packets, since the objective is for Haitians to start carrying out the process by themselves.

“We are trying to identify people in neighborhoods or communities and train them so they can then go on to train more people,” the official added.

Care will be distributing PUR packets in the coming weeks together with large buckets where water can be purified. The organization will also provide other items such as soap and sanitary napkins.

During the emergency phase of the earthquake, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ensured a round-the-clock supply of water by trucks to Cité Soleil, the poorest area of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Removing the rubble

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working to remove rubble and garbage, in an effort to improve general sanitation conditions.

UNDP is currently employing more than 1,000 Haitians to restart economic activity. After the emergency, the organization hired 700 inhabitants to remove rubble and rehabilitate essential social infrastructure, such as street repairs and electricity.

Prior to the earthquake UNDP had 400 employees carrying out an ecological project in Carrefour, a neighborhood located south of Port-au-Prince. Following the earthquake, the workers and trucks from this project started to remove the rubble and clean streets so other trucks carrying aid could go through, the official said.

In spite of the urgency to reorganize capital Port-au-Prince, resources continue to be limited. UNDP estimates that a US$41.3mn donation is needed for early recovery initiatives in Haiti. This is part of a nearly US$600mn flash appeal launched by UNDP on January 15. The organization estimates some US$58.8mn needs to be invested in water, sanitation and hygiene programs.


Using free transport provided by the government, more than 235,000 people have left Port-au-Prince and moved to rural neighborhoods where the effects of the earthquake were not so severe. Some 62,000 have relocated to Artibonite, for example. However, 800,000 people are still living in temporary camps in the capital, OCHA reported.

To avoid the spread of diseases, the government is planning to relocate another 400,000 from Port-au-Prince to new settlements which are being set up. The relocation program will be carried out in the coming weeks.

Next Steps

Haiti declared the search and rescue phase over on 23 January 2010 so international rescue teams are concentrating more on humanitarian aid for those who need it, instead of searching the rubble for survivors.

Multilateral entities such as the World Bank and IDB are already taking steps to waive debts. UK-based charity Oxfam has urged donor countries to have Haiti’s foreign debts cancelled. It called for about US$900mn owed to the UN, the World Bank and countries including the US, France, Canada and Brazil to be written off.

Go the Reliefweb site for latest Haiti earthquake water and sanitation updates.

Source: Indiana Corrales, BNamericas.com [subscription site], 25 Jan 2010 ; OCHA, 31 Jan 2010 ; DFID, 02 Feb 2010 ; ICRC, 29 Jan 2010


Haiti: British Red Cross sends emergency hygiene team, UN concerned about lack of latrines

The British Red Cross is sending an emergency hygiene team to Haiti, with urgently needed sanitation equipment for the hundreds of thousands of people now living in temporary shelters or staying in makeshift camps.

The team of four are bringing 110 emergency latrines, a mini JCB digger and other essential hygiene kit. This mass sanitation emergency response unit (ERU) is able to deal with the sanitation needs of up to 20,000 people in the aftermath of an emergency.

Sharon Reader, Photo: British Red Cross

Sharon Reader, ERU team member, said: “With so many thousands of people living out in the open air, sanitation becomes absolutely paramount to prevent the spread of disease. It’s important to get good, safe latrines built for public health reasons, and to give people some dignity in this desperate situation. We will also be doing hygiene promotion work to help people keep clean and safe. The work of our team will be absolutely vital for making sure survivors, who have already been through so much, can stay healthy.”

Relief effort intensifies

Nine days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, as relief efforts intensify, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is reaching tens of thousands of people.

However, the situation on the ground remains desperate for survivors living amidst the rubble. Simon Schorno, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman in Port-au-Prince, said: “Although people and, in some cases, the local authorities have started to organise to find water or to collect trash, hygiene is becoming a big problem.”

The Red Cross has already sent seventeen emergency response units (ERU), from around the world, to provide support in water and sanitation, logistics, IT and telecommunication infrastructure, health facilities and medical aid. The British Red Cross logistics ERU has been in the Dominican Republic since 16 January, co-ordinating the delivery of aid being trucked to Haiti. The sanitation ERU being deployed today will provide additional support to the massive operation in Port-au-Prince.

Clean water for over 12,000 people

The ICRC is now providing water for over 12,000 people living in three makeshift camps in Port-au-Prince. “Tanker trucks bring water several times a day to reservoirs we have installed so that families in the camps can drink and wash throughout the day,” explained Ikthiar Aslanov, an ICRC water and sanitation engineer.

“After the horror and difficulties of recent days, it is a joy to see children drink clean water and wash themselves,” said Ugo Mora, another ICRC engineer.

Source: British Red Cross, 21 Jan 2010

The Haitian Directorate for Civil Protection (DCP) has estimated that the earthquake resulted in 75,000 persons killed, 200,000 injured and one million displaced. Approximately half of all structures in Port-au-Prince are believed to have collapsed.

IOM estimates that there are more than 300 makeshift settlements scattered throughout the city, with an estimated 370,000 people living under improvised shelter with no access to water supplies, according to recent assessments. Until tents can be provided, priority needs for those in these settlements include plastic sheeting, water containers, and water purification tablets.

The United Nations has designated 12 clusters to coordinate relief efforts. UNICEF is leading the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) cluster.

As of 19 January 2010, the WASH Cluster has established 82 distribution sites for water, and has 180 water trucks with a total capacity to provide water to 180,000 people. Water tanks are been erected in each zone of the city. Water distribution was halted on 19 January due to fuel shortage. UNICEF contracted a fuel provider on 20 January 2010 that has committed to providing 5,000 gallons of fuel on a daily basis. The main cluster priorities include continued daily distribution of water to affected population and increasing the number of water trucks to facilitate distribution.

The makeshift settlements in Port-au-Prince are a concern due to limited latrine capacity.  The Government has confirmed that stocks of 900 latrine plates are available in-country. There is also a need for construction materials for latrines.

The WASH cluster announced that no more water purification units are needed, but shortages persist for bladders, distribution units, small water pumps for drinking water and drums for latrines. The cluster will begin sanitation and hygiene promotion activities shortly.

The WASH Cluster reports a good start in the launching of various working groups (sanitation, hygiene promotion, logistics, resource mobilization, and needs assessment) with the involvement of the private sector and government institutions (DINEPA and SMCRS for solid waste management). Needs assessments are ongoing both in Port-au-Prince and outside by cluster partners.

See the latest Reliefweb water and sanitation sector updates for the Haiti earthquake disaster.

Source: OCHA Haiti Earthquake Situation Report #9, 20 January 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

Israel: Cholera prevention program developed by Hebrew U. students adopted by International Red Cross

13 Aug 2008

A cholera prevention program developed by students of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School’s International Masters in Public Health Program has been adopted by the Red Cross in Kenya, and is currently under consideration by the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health & Sanitation.

Read all Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Press release