Nepal floods: Water, sanitation and hygiene urgently needed to prevent public health crisis, WaterAid warns
The recent floods in Nepal, which have killed at least 123 people and affected approximately 11.5 million, risk turning into a public health crisis unless urgent steps are taken to provide those affected with water, sanitation and hygiene, WaterAid said on Tuesday.
The warning comes after days of relentless rains sparked flash floods and landslides that have affected 27 low-lying districts neighbouring India.
The significant damage to water sources and sanitation infrastructure, coupled with power cuts, the washing away of the main east-west highway road network and the closure of local health centres, brings with it the potential for a significant public health crisis.
Currently 8% of Nepal’s population are without access to clean water and 54% don’t have decent toilets. Without proper sanitation, heavy rains wash faeces into the water supply, allowing waterborne diseases including cholera to spread quickly. Residents cut off from water supplies are also forced to collect dirty water from overflowing rivers, making the transmission of disease much easier.
Tripti Rai, WaterAid Nepal’s Country Director, said:
“In order to stop this situation from getting any worse, the government must ensure affected communities are provided with emergency kits, which include water purification tablets and soap. In addition, temporary toilets must be erected to reduce the spread of disease, communities must be educated on the importance of handwashing and food safety and oral rehydration salts and zinc tablets should be provided for the treatment of diarrhoea.”
“WaterAid Nepal are working alongside affected communities in the Siraha, Bardiya and Kailali districts in the southern belt of Nepal, as are five of our local partners.”
“The Department of Health, and the District Water Supply and Sanitation Office have requested our assistance handling the emergency and we have dispatched 90,000 water purification chlorine tablets across Siraha, Bardiya and Nawalparasi. We will of course continue to provide any support that the Government requests during this difficult time”.