Windhoek, Namibia, 29 April 2011 – UNICEF continues a robust relief operation in the North of Namibia, which has been affected by the heaviest rains and worst flooding in 120 years. In cooperation with local authorities, the agency is distributing emergency supplies to affected families, including three 10,000 litre and ten 5,000 litre water tanks, 150,000 water purification sachets and 1,000 basic family water kits.
"Ensuring that children and families have access to safe drinking water, as well as to sanitation and hygiene facilities is critical to stop outbreaks of diarrhoea and cholera," said UNICEF Representative Ian MacLeod. "In addition to the distribution of relief items, UNICEF is organizing hygiene education in relocation centres which will reduce the potential of illness and even death, particularly amongst infants and small children."
UNICEF is also delivering 28 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Kits and 18 tents to child-friendly spaces where young children and students receive psycho-social support provided by trained volunteers.
The distribution of humanitarian supplies is part of UNICEF’s response to the national flood emergency that declared on 29 March by the President of the Republic of Namibia, Hifikepunye Pohamba, to address the large-scale flooding in the Northern and North-Eastern regions of the country (Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango and Caprivi).
UNICEF also deployed Water, Nutrition, Child Health, Education, Child Protection and Coordination Experts to the affected areas. The experts are working in coordination with local government authorities and other relief organizations.
It is the second time in three years that Namibia has declared a national flood emergency. The extensive flooding affects more than 220,000 people out of a total population of 2.1 million. About 30,000 people have been displaced and 200 schools had to be closed down temporarily, affecting over 80,000 children.
“We are working to support the Ministry of Education to offer alternative safe locations for classrooms," said UNICEF's Ian MacLeod. "We are also purchasing cleaning materials to ensure that once schools are accessible, they can be rapidly cleaned up and made hygienic.”
With water levels subsiding, stagnating surface water from the floods poses a serious health risk to children and their families, with at least 300 suspected cases of malaria in one region alone and 3,000 cases of diarrhoea, as well as 51 suspected cases of measles, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Extensive damage to roads and other vital infrastructure has cut off many people from essential services. Figures from Ministry of Health show that 29 per cent of health facilities and 51 per cent of outreach centres in the most affected regions are not accessible.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Michael Klaus, Regional Chief of Communication
Mobile (254-716 431880)
Juditha Leketo Matjila, Communication Specialist, Windhoek
Office +264 61-2046253
Mobile (264-81127 5967)