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Pakistan - Drikkevand og sanitære forhold er af afgørende betydning!

PAKISTAN: Water and sanitation dire in quake-stricken north

IRINnews.org, 17. oktober 2005

Der lever omkring 3 millioner i det jordskælvsramte område, som mangler rent drikkevand og sikre sanitære forhold. Frygten for epidemier vokser i takt med at vanskelighederne med at nå de hårdest ramte tårner sig op.

Adgang til rent drikkevand i regionen har første prioritet - ©  IRIN
ISLAMABAD, 17 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Dire water and sanitation conditions have left Pakistan’s quake-stricken north facing major outbreaks of disease.

“There is still time to avert a major crisis but time is running out,” Bill Fellows, regional water and sanitation advisor for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Islamabad, told IRIN on Monday. “We have three million people defecating in their backyards,” he said, describing that situation alone as a “ticking time bomb”.

“The situation is serious – and potentially critical,” Fellows added, warning of severe diarrhoeal epidemics.

While an outbreak of cholera would certainly grab the world’s attention, there was a full range of diarrhoeal diseases that were equally deadly, he said.

“All of them will kill you dead,” he warned.

His comments come a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the international community to provide safe drinking water to affected populations of the 8 October quake, which is believed to have killed more than 50,000 people and injured thousands more.

WHO said in a statement on Sunday the lack of access to safe drinking water had become a major health concern for the region. Epidemics of diarrhoea, typhoid and other water-borne diseases could be prevented only by the provision of safe drinking water.

Hundreds of thousands of litres of water were needed to reduce the risk of outbreaks of disease, and also for hygiene purposes in health facilities where the seriously injured, including those with open fractures and gangrene, were at risk from fatal infections and water-borne diseases, the statement said.

After the first wave of deaths caused by collapsed buildings and landslides, WHO stressed the need to accelerate the health response to minimise further fatalities and disabilities.

Meeting this urgent demand for clean, safe water won’t be easy, however. Almost all supply facilities in the region have been destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake.

“The networks are gone,” Fellows said. “Very common in these areas [are] gravity flow schemes, with springs up in the mountains. The pipe networks are destroyed.”

While springs and other sources of water were mostly still intact – not always the case in an earthquake when aquifers are shifted, causing springs to disappear – they remain heavily silted and polluted.

“They will eventually clear but I can’t honestly say how long that will take,” Fellows said.

He appealed for more jerry cans, chlorine, soap and mobile treatment units to be sent to the region.

“We are scrambling to send up more chlorine in the form of tablets and powder for household use and jerry cans. If a house has a jerry can and chlorine tablets, they could be drinking disinfected water,” Fellows explained.

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 9.1.2006