NEW YORK (November 10, 2011) – UNICEF is providing more than 300,000 water, hygiene and sanitation items, including bars of soap, chlorine drops for water purification, alcohol hand-wash gel and garbage bags, to flood-affected families in order to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases, the organization said today.
The locally purchased supplies are being delivered to the affected families via the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). About 27,000 bottles of chlorine drops, each of which can be used to purify 2,000 liters of water, were delivered to MOPH on November 9, while 7,000 bottles of liquid soap were handed over today. Some 200,000 bars of soap are scheduled to be delivered next week, together with another 33,000 bottles of chlorine drops. UNICEF has budgeted $1.2 million to provide emergency relief and post-flood assistance to affected children and families in the areas of health, child protection, water supply and sanitation, hygiene promotion and education.
"Hygiene and sanitation are always a major concern in any flooding situation," said Tomoo Hozumi, the UNICEF Representative for Thailand. "Although no outbreaks have been reported so far, contaminated floodwaters can result in water-borne diseases. The risk of these diseases can be reduced through safe sanitation and improved hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing."
The number of children who have died during the floods is also of concern, Hozumi said. To date, the floods have claimed 533 lives, including 77 children. Most of the child fatalities, 70% of which were boys aged 0-17, were due to the drowning.
"Children stranded in houses surrounded by water have no space to play, so they end up playing in the water," Hozumi said. "Since many Thai children do not know how to swim, there is great risk involved."
UNICEF pamphlets with information on practical and simple actions that families should take to protect the health and general well-being of their children during floods, including the prevention of drowning and other child injuries, have been disseminated to families. Another 300,000 of these pamphlets will be distributed to affected families over the next few days via the MOPH's village health volunteer network.
UNICEF has supported the establishment of "child friendly spaces" at 40 large evacuation centers to provide safe areas for recreation and psychosocial support activities for children, as well as training on registration of children and prevention of child abuse and exploitation in the centers.
With flood waters receding in some provinces, UNICEF will be distributing "school in a box" kits to some 1,000 schools severely damaged by the floods. Each kit contains essential learning and teaching materials for up to 80 students, and will be used to get children back to learning in temporary locations while their schools are being repaired and refurbished.
"Getting children back into school and back to a normal routine as soon as possible will help speed their recovery from this disaster," Hozumi said. "UNICEF wants to do all it can to ensure this."
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian aid organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, (m) 646.428.5010, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, email@example.com