Six experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit who flew to the disaster area in the Philippines just before Christmas returned to Switzerland yesterday. Their task was to support local authorities in re-establishing water supplies in the South Philippine town of Cagayan de Oro and in several evacuation centres in the region.
The four water experts and the two logistics specialists from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) were sent by the FDFA in stages from 21 December 2011 onwards to help alleviate the distress caused by a tropical storm in the south of the Philippines (media release of 22 December). The six experts focused on improving the supply of drinking water to the populations affected.
Twelve water tanks were installed Cagayan de Oro Hospital and in evacuation centres in the towns of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. A device for analysing water quality was handed over and local specialists were taught how to use it. The drivers of water supply vehicles were also instructed in the chlorination of water. In addition, the Swiss experts gave support in the reconstruction of drinking-water wells.
The activity of the Swiss experts benefited more than half a million people. In the night of 17 December, tropical storm Washi ravaged the south of the Philippines, causing the deaths of more than 1000 people. Many thousands had to leave their homes and were looked after in evacuation centres.