One month after the storm that hit the Sahrawi refugee camp in Laayoune, refugee children and their families are gradually recovering.
One major achievement was the fact that all children were able to start the school year as planned. The UNICEF Representative in Algeria witnessed this on a visit to the camp on 6 and 7 September. The emergency consolidation of the school buildings has been completed on a timely manner by the Italian NGO CISP (International Committee for the Development of Peoples) with the support of UNICEF. This allowed the partial use of the damaged buildings. School-tents were also erected, and double morning and afternoon shifts are organized in some of the schools so that all children can be accommodated.
All children in affected schools were provided with an individual kit of basic school supplies that will help them resume their education with proper educational material. Psychosocial activities in schools implemented by CISP with the support of UNHCR and school feeding by WFP, should re-start in the coming days.
In light of the risk of extreme weather conditions in the comings weeks and months, the emergency education coordination group co-chaired by UNICEF and UNHCR initiated the preparation of a contingency plan. UN agencies, supported by the Sahrawi Red Crescent, are leading the contingency planning exercise across all sectors.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Children in Laayoune refugee camp, including the 8,109 children registered in schools and kindergartens damaged by the storm, are starting their school year as planned. This was made possible thanks to the emergency consolidation work conducted by CISP with the support of UNICEF under the close supervision of engineers commissioned by the local authorities. Until further rehabilitation can be done, and for the safety of children, the local authorities will monitor the state of the buildings.
Plans are in place for more sustainable rehabilitation works. UNICEF and partners are aiming to raise funds so this work can be undertaken as soon as possible to allow children to enjoy an improved learning environment. Details of the state of each of the 6 schools and 5 kindergartens affected are as follows:
Kordoba primary school (18 classrooms) was very seriously damaged. Emergency consolidation, including temporary fixing of the roof could be done. The school needs extensive rehabilitation [funding yet to be secured].
Cantabria primary school (16 classrooms): emergency consolidation and temporary fixing of the roof were required so that the school could be used. One entire block of classrooms requires reconstruction [funding yet to be secured].
Legronio primary school (18 classrooms) operates on a double shift system in 10 classrooms until the rehabilitation can be completed. DRC (the Danish Refugee Council) committed to perform the work [funding yet to be secured].
Mahjoub El Khadir primary school (17 classrooms) was severely damaged. Emergency consolidation, including temporary fixing of the roof could be done. 6 school tents, previously used in the camp of Dakhla after the October 2015 floods, were erected to accommodate children. The Dimes foundation committed to rebuild the school.
Um Dreigua intermediate school (17 classrooms) was under rehabilitation by CISP supported by UNICEF when the storm hit. Rehabilitation works are now completed.
Said Sghir intermediate school (19 classrooms) went through emergency consolidation and fixing of the roof. The school needs extensive rehabilitation [funding yet to be secured].
Doura kindergarten (6 classrooms) went through emergency fixing of the roof. The building requires extensive rehabilitation [funding yet to be secured].
Hagounia kindergarten (6 classrooms) is operating with 4 tents provided by the Saharawi Red Crescent. The association Limone nel Verde is committed to carry out the rehabilitation.
Dchira kindergarten (6 classrooms) went through emergency fixing of the roof. The building requires extensive rehabilitation [funding yet to be secured].
Amgala kindergarten (6 classrooms) was damaged by the storm and requires extensive rehabilitation [funding yet to be secured].
Guelta 1 kindergarten (6 classrooms) was being rehabilitated by CISP supported by UNICEF at the time of the storm.
With the rainy season approaching, and confronted to the increased frequency of extreme weather conditions, humanitarian partners are reviewing contingency plans. In addition to prepositioning school-tents, systematic measures will be adopted to buildback better. This involves a pragmatic approach in applying lessons learnt including on improved roofing techniques, the use of “stabilized” mud bricks, or prefabricated elements and/or of cement blocks depending on the conditions of existing infrastructure.
UNICEF aims to mobilize US$ 381,000 to cover immediate school repair/consolidation works and medium-term more sustainable rehabilitations. Budgeted figure also covers funding needed to implement immediate contingency measures so that education can continue or quickly resume in case of emergency, including through the pre-positioning of school tents.