UN agencies and NGOs have been working around the clock to bring relief to the thousands of people affected by last week’s floodwaters brought by Tropical Storm Jeanne. Last week, Jeanne struck the nation of Haiti, devastating the town of Gonaives and other towns in northern Haiti, leaving over 1,650 dead, and about 800 missing.
World Vision, which has played an integral in the relief efforts in Haiti, reported that trucks currently have to cross a 3-foot-deep lake to get into the city of Gonaives, and security concerns including looting of aid trucks have slowed the relief effort. However, with an increased UN peacekeeper presence in the city, more food distribution sites are being identified, to get food and other supplies out to people in a safe environment.
“We have launched a worldwide appeal, and the responses to that appeal have enabled us to become active in providing Emergency Family Kits,?EWV Haiti Operations Director Frank Williams said at a joint press conference Tuesday. “We have also been able to commit staff in this critical time of getting food out.?E
"We also agree that this is an opportunity to create a strategy of hope with creative and sustainable solutions to Haiti's poverty," Williams added.
WV reported that there are serious health concerns as contaminated water lingers around the city. The stagnant water, full of mud and debris, and a few remaining dead bodies, is for many the only source of water to drink, cook rice, and wash in. Medical teams are forced to administer care in makeshift clinics. Fears are growing for the spread of infections such as diarrhea, a life-threatening illness in children, typhoid, dysentery, malaria, as well as skin infections, as the provision of clean drinking water, and clean up and sanitation of homes and streets becomes a critical need.
World Vision Haiti has already donated 500 body bags to the International Red Cross, to help with the disposal of corpses still being pulled from the mud and water.
Three hundred emergency family kits have been transported to Gonaives, each containing mattresses, cooking pots, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair combs, soap, bowls, toilet paper, sanitary towels, water purification tablets, plates, cups, spoons, water containers, and washing powder. The kitchen and hygiene items are intended to help survivors prepare food donated by other agencies, and with personal hygiene to help prevent the spread of diseases.
WV has also purchased - at the request of CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) - 200,000 plastic bags that are urgently needed at food distribution centers to help separate food.
An additional 900 emergency family kits (kitchen sets & hygiene) are being purchased and should be ready for distribution to Gonaives (600 kits) and to the North West/Port-de-Paix (300 kits) next week. The kits contain mattresses, cooking pots, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair combs, soap, bowls, water purification tablets, plates, cups, spoons, water containers, washing powder, towels.
WV has also arranged a contract with NGO Clean Water for Haiti, a provider of water filters, for the molds and materials to make 300 bio-sand water filters for Gonaives. Once made, the simple water filters are able to clean one liter of water per minute, for the cost of US$40. Given the urgent needs for clean drinking water, it should help minimize the health risks from drinking dirty water.