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Monitoring Emergencies

From official sources (F.O.) and media (M.C.). It does not represent PAHO's official position.

Chile 4/15/2014

Valparaíso region. Wildfires update. (12-15 April) 15 dead, 11,000 affected and 12,400 people evacuated. Of the evacuees, 1,018 are in nine shelters. 2,300 homes are damaged. There is an increase in respiratory illness cases due to the smoke. The majority of victims remain in the affected areas. The fire continues to have some active focal points. Response: Health authorities are reorganizing and increasing health services capacity. Seven mental health teams are working in shelters and vaccination being implemented for those sheltered as well as volunteers. Trucks are distributing water and water tanks are being installed in shelters. There is a health alert for the Valparaíso region. The Government has sent humanitarian aid and emergency temporary homes to Valparaíso. (o.s: Ministry of Health, ONEMI, CONAF, ESVAL, PAHO Office in Chile)

Arica y Parinacota and Tarapaca regions. 8.2M earthquake update (1-15 April). A 5.3 magnitude aftershock occurred with no reports of further damages. Total: 21,813 people affected, 912 people in nine shelters, and 15,300 damaged homes. Iquique Hospital is 80% operational and a mobile unit is supporting a health center in Alto Hospicio, but the rest of the health network is fully operational. (o.s: ONEMI, Chile Seismology, PAHO Office in Chile)

Nicaragua 4/15/2014

Earthquake update (10-14 April). Total: 2 dead, 266 injured, and 6,628 people affected in Nagarote. 1,585 people were evacuated; of them, 710 people are in shelters in Managua (647) and Nagarote (67). There are minor damages, such as cracks, in 22 health facilities, and 2,375 homes are affected. Shallow seismic activity continues near Motobombo volcano. Response: Medical brigades mobilized, health services reorganized, and field hospitals deployed as a preventive measure in Managua. The majority of medical consults have been mental health related. UN Agencies offered technical assistance and international organizations are on alert. Cuba and Venezuela sent humanitarian aid as well as seismologists to provide technical support. An extreme red alert has been declared on the national level. (o.s: UNETE, Government of Nicaragua, INETER, PAHO Office in Nicaragua; m: El 19 Digital)

Bolivia 4/15/2014

Floods update (January-14 April): In Guayamerín, the water level is decreasing, but the state of emergency continues due to the possibility of the Mamoré river rising. Seven rivers accros the country are on red alert. Beni department continues to receive support. (o.s: Hydrographic Naval Service; m: Prensa Latina, FM Noticias)

Colombia 4/15/2014

Cauca department. Update on displacement in Guapí (14 March-12 April). Clashes cause an additional 137 people to be displaced. 428 people return to Joanico, but 378 still remain in shelters. (f.o: OCHA Colombia)

Chile 4/15/2014

Valparaíso region. Wildfires update. (12-15 April) 15 dead, 11,000 affected and 12,400 people evacuated. Of the evacuees, 1,018 are in nine shelters. 2,300 homes are damaged. There is an increase in respiratory illness cases due to the smoke. The majority of victims remain in the affected areas. The fire continues to have some active focal points. Response: Health authorities are reorganizing and increasing health services capacity. Seven mental health teams are working in shelters and vaccination being implemented for those sheltered as well as volunteers. Trucks are distributing water and water tanks are being installed in shelters. There is a health alert for the Valparaíso region. The Government has sent humanitarian aid and emergency temporary homes to Valparaíso. (o.s: Ministry of Health, ONEMI, CONAF, ESVAL, PAHO Office in Chile)

Arica y Parinacota and Tarapaca regions. 8.2M earthquake update (1-15 April). A 5.3 magnitude aftershock occurred with no reports of further damages. Total: 21,813 people affected, 912 people in nine shelters, and 15,300 damaged homes. Iquique Hospital is 80% operational and a mobile unit is supporting a health center in Alto Hospicio, but the rest of the health network is fully operational. (o.s: ONEMI, Chile Seismology, PAHO Office in Chile)

A Clean Water Partnership in Haiti

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Article and photos by Sam Vigersky

It’s 8:00 AM in Port-au-Prince and the thermometer reads 92 degrees. Julie Longpré, a civil engineer working in water and sanitation for PAHO/WHO doesn’t seem bothered. When she arrives at the Penguin Water Center a dozen noisy trucks idle in lines, waiting their turn to fill-up with chlorinated water for delivery to hundreds-of-thousands of people living in settlement sites. “This is one of the best parts of my job,” she says, preparing to take water samples by emptying her pockets of anything that can’t get wet and grabbing three glass jars.

Julie approaches a truck and tells the driver she needs a sample, and with permission, carefully ascends a ladder until reaching the roof nine feet up.  With feet planted, she extends her arm and the glass jar clasped in her hand suddenly disappears in a torrent of water rushing from the pipe above towards the trucks hull. In 90 seconds, three water samples are taken and Julie has managed to become soaking wet. “Working in the field is definitely fun. Especially when you can get wet on a hot day!” The water collected on this day will be analyzed at the THW (German Federal Agency for Technical Relief) laboratory.

These small samples are an important part of the elaborately choreographed system that brings together the Haitian Government, UN agencies and NGOs. The result is delivery of 4.2 million liters of clean drinking water every day – a major success considering Port-au-Prince’s notorious traffic jams and ever shrinking boulevards from rubble spilling into the streets.  PAHO/WHO assists DINEPA (the National Direction for Potable Water and Sanitation) with chlorination by providing HTH (High-Test Hypochlorite) to water trucks at filling stations. This chlorination process kills bacteria, which left untreated, can cause disease outbreaks like watery diarrhea and gastrointestinal illness in crowded settlement sites. The samples taken by Julie help determine whether the levels are safe enough for drinking.

Beyond regular sampling Penguin, PAHO/WHO and THW are supporting the government in their efforts to establish a water quality monitoring laboratory within the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Laboratory at Tamarinier. The laboratory will provide analysis of samples for monitoring and outbreak control. Vendors will also be able to have their water certified as being potable.  “The ability of the government to analyze water samples is essential for health promotion and disease prevention activities,” noted Sally Edwards, a PAHO/WHO advisor in Sustainable Development and Environmental Health. “The monitoring laboratory will be a major achievement in the delivery of clean water.”

Sampling at distribution centers is important, but to ensure the product is safe, monitoring continues once water is transferred from trucks to settlement sites. Here, problems can arise from contamination if there is no residual chlorine on site. At some sites, water is stored in a reservoir where people often place dirty buckets inside which can contaminate the whole source. PAHO/WHO, as a member of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster led by UNICEF, has been working with a technical group to develop Water Quality Guidelines for monitoring of water quality on site. The guidelines help NGOs managing chlorine levels, offer hygiene promotion to prevent the spread of disease, and ensure testing is done from source to site. Finally, development of a Water Safety Plan for more sustainable management of water resources in Haiti is being written. These collaborative efforts, in both the present and future, will help increase the amount of safe water throughout the country.

 

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