Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief


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Monitoring Emergencies



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

Mexico 11/22-24/2014

Floods. (Update) The rainfall last week in Tabasco left severe damages in various areas such as Nacajuca, where water reached more than 300 millimeters, and Tabasco, with more than 220 millimeters, and left more than 70,000 affected. Some families are still in several shelters because flooded roads have not allowed them to return to their homes. (m.: A7 Noticias).

USA 11/22-24/2014

Buffalo, New York: Snowstorm (Update). After more than seven feet of snow fell last week, the governor of New York warned the residents of Buffalo regarding the risk of collapse of roofs. In addition, the strong winds that are affecting the city could cause falling trees and downed power lines. The temperature rose considerably today, which could trigger the risk of flooding from melting snow. Approximately 700,000 people are at risk. Thousands of sandbags have been placed around the city as a precaution. (m.: Reuters, CNN).

Mexico 11/22-24/2014

Floods. (Update) The rainfall last week in Tabasco left severe damages in various areas such as Nacajuca, where water reached more than 300 millimeters, and Tabasco, with more than 220 millimeters, and left more than 70,000 affected. Some families are still in several shelters because flooded roads have not allowed them to return to their homes. (m.: A7 Noticias).



A Clean Water Partnership in Haiti

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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