Kent Page, 2013. A family collects water at one of the 30,000 water access points across Tacloban that UNICEF and its partners restored this weekend.

Typhoon Haiyan: UNICEF Restores Water to Tacloban

In a major step forward, UNICEF and its partners brought the first water treatment plant in the city of Tacloban back to full operating capacity this weekend.

At least 200,000 people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban and six surrounding districts are now receiving clean water.

“What we have seen today is vital collaboration between government, donors and U.N. agencies that will literally save lives,” said UNICEF Representative in the Philippines Tomoo Hozumi.

A lack of fuel to run the main water treatment plant was the big impediment to getting clean water back to Tacloban since the typhoon struck on Nov. 8. UNICEF has been working in the Philippines since 1948 and used its strong relationship with the government to negotiate an initial emergency supply of fuel from the Philippines military to run the plant for four days. USAID has pledged to maintain the subsequent fuel supply.

As a result, 30,000 water access points across Tacloban are now functioning. With full operation of the water treatment plan, the volume of clean water will increase from 15,000 liters to now 60,000 liters, which means shorter lines at public taps.

Access to clean water has been a first priority for UNICEF in the disaster response to reduce the threat of diseases from poor sanitation and contaminated water. UNICEF has been trucking and airlifting water and sanitation supplies to Tacloban and other affected areas, in addition to setting up water tanks in Roxas. UNICEF has also set up a water treatment unit in a strategic point in the coastal town of Pontevedra in Capiz and installed collapsible tanks with clean drinking water for villages in Capiz and Northern Cebu.

But there is still much more to be done.13 million people have been affected by the disaster—5 million of them children. 789,000 children have been displaced, and many are unaccompanied.

Reestablishing water access allows UNICEF to focus on other priorities, particularly child protection. UNICEF has identified three areas in Tacloban to set up Child Friendly Spaces. As the disaster response continues, UNICEF will be working to reunite and protect the most vulnerable children who are unaccompanied by adults.

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