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Floods in Suriname Situation Report, June 2006

Rain Water Harvesting

With the rainy season, waters are rising again in the East of Suriname. In some areas the situation is critical again. In the Ampomatapu area people have sought a safe haven in French Guyana. Also parts of West Suriname, such as the road to Blanche Marie have flooded. The National Coordination Centre intends to continue food distribution. However, considering the amounts of money associated with air transport, NCCR is looking for alternative means of transportation by water and road.

Meanwhile, PAHO is going through the same process for the transportation of rain water tanks. These tanks were bought by PAHO as response to the need for safe drinking area in the affected areas. In addition to the environmental consequences, it is not possible to supply the whole area with bottled water. Rain water tanks can – especially in the rainy season when there is enough rainfall – be a relatively safe way of water catchments. To be able to ensure safe water all year long, the project was complemented with the purchase of water purification tablets. This way, even when there is a shortage of rain water, villagers will be able to have water safe for drinking.

PAHO ordered the tanks after an assessment in the interior. PAHO environmental health engineers looked at the most appropriate size of tanks, what kind of material and how should they be installed. Based on this assessment, they initially locally ordered 43 bottle shaped tanks of a high quality. But as these tanks are not suitable for stacking up, transport is expensive. The first 43 tanks were transported by air to the five hubs that were established by the National Coordination Centre for Disaster Response. This facilitated a fast response to immediate needs, but is a relative expensive form of transportation as each airplane or helicopter could only transport three or four tanks.

In the second phase of the project, 110 fully closed model tanks were ordered from local stores. For the transportation of these tanks, more efficient solutions were found. The tanks have been transported with trucks to Albina (on the east end of Suriname), from where they will be taken to the many small villages on the side of the river that runs from Albina to Cottica on the Lawa, all the way south in the interior. And for once, the extremely high water level has a benefit. Only in these circumstances the big pontoon that is stationed in Albina can move on the river all the way to the interior. The pontoon is big enough to accommodate 96 tanks. With the aid of at least six small boats – the ‘korjalen’ that are commonly used for transport to the interior – the pontoon with the tanks will be pushed upstream. These small boats will also be filled with the fuel needed to push the pontoon all the way to Apotamoe. In each village along the Marowijne, the pontoon will hold still to unload a number of rain water tanks for the village. For each 30 villagers, one tank is supplied.

To facilitate a good installation and adoption of the tanks by the village, PAHO sought cooperation with the network of NGOs working in the interior (het binnenland overleg) and the bestuursopzichters (government inspectors in the area). Both the NGOs and the government inspectors have received training from PAHO in installing the tanks and general water, sanitation and hygiene. With their knowledge and skills they will train the villagers that will use the tanks. 2 or 3 days before the pontoon with the rain water tanks will moor in the village, the NGOs will be present to give training and prepare the installation of the tanks. This will facilitate a quick and proper use of rainwater in the flood affected area. NATIN, the technical college in Suriname, has supported this process with the development of standard drawings for the base on which the water tanks need to be placed.

PAHO has been able to implement this project with funds that were supplied by OFDA.


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