Mar 10, 2014

UNICEF Restores Drinking Water to Central African Republic

Drinking water restored to more than 183,000 people ahead of the rainy season

UNICEF Central African Republic Drinking Water Restoration

Just ahead of the onset of the rainy season, which increases the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera, UNICEF and its partners have restored safe, chlorinated drinking water for more than 183,000 displaced people across the Central African Republic (CAR).

“Access to safe drinking water remains out of reach to many people who have been displaced by the violence,” said UNICEF CAR Representative Souleymane Diabaté. “As the first heavy rains have already begun, standing water and flooding increase the risk of a cholera outbreak. Children are particularly vulnerable to diseases related to bad water and inadequate sanitation conditions, and reliable supply of safe drinking water is crucial to their survival and well-being.”

More than a year after the beginning of a conflict, many displaced families still have little or no access to safe water, and those with access have a fraction of what is needed.

Among the crucial actions UNICEF and its partners have taken in the past two months are the following:

  • More than 72,000 people who fled their homes, leaving everything behind, received soap, jerricans and information on appropriate hygiene practices, in an effort to prevent the outbreak of contagious waterborne diseases.
  • In the vulnerable Muslim communities of PK5, PK12 and the military airport in Bangui, which are surrounded and threatened by anti-Balaka militias, 5,000 displaced people continued to receive emergency provisions of water.
  • In Bossangoa, close to 17,000 internally displaced people now have access to more than 22 liters of water per person per day after UNICEF helped to restore the facilities of the national water company, which were pillaged during the conflict. UNICEF also is working to improve both quantity and quality of water for 352,000 vulnerable people.
  • With help from the European Union’s humanitarian arm, ECHO, UNICEF is working with partners to increase the water production of the Bangui water treatment plant, restore the municipal water distribution system in Bouar and repair hand pumps, boreholes and wells in the interior of the country, wherever access permits.

“In the interior of the country, many water points have been destroyed or have fallen into disrepair, having had no maintenance for over a year. Whenever possible, we are repairing rather than creating new water points, which is more sustainable than distributing water by trucking,” Diabate said.

In 2014, UNICEF is requesting $62 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in CAR, which includes $14 million to cover water, sanitation and hygiene needs.