UNICEF aid reaches children and families affected by Jakarta floods

© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Purnomo
Children carry hygiene kits distributed by UNICEF to flood victims in Jakarta.

By Suzanna Dayne

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 12 February 2007 – As torrential rains ease off and floodwaters begin to recede, thousands of people in Jakarta and surrounding areas are now returning to their homes.

Garbage trucks have been out in force on the capital’s streets for a huge clean-up, while relief supplies are rushed in to help devastated residents rebuild their lives.

UNICEF emergency supplies worth more than $150,000 are now being distributed to flood victims in Jakarta. At the peak of the flooding – the worst the city has seen in five years – more than 500,000 people were forced to abandon their homes. The floods also paralyzed most of the city, inundating roads and cutting off clean water supplies, telephone lines and electricity.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Purnomo
A woman receives UNICEF hygiene kits at a temporary shelter for flood victims in Bukit Duri, Jakarta.

Access to safe water

One of the relief effort’s top priorities is providing safe water.

“Many people have not had access to safe water for a week and we are concerned that the lack of safe water could lead to an outbreak of diseases among children,” said UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano.

To prevent the spread of waterborne diseases to the youngest children, UNICEF has urged communities not to distribute infant formula to flood victims, as many families do not have easy access to clean water or means to purify it.

To meet the huge demand for drinking water, 30 collapsible bladders will be strategically placed at different locations, providing enough water to meet the daily needs of some 240,000 people. In addition, UNICEF will distribute 5,000 jerry cans (for carrying potable water), 2,500 bottles of water purification liquid and 72 bottles of water purification tablets to families affected by the disaster.

Following a request from the Indonesian Government, UNICEF is handing out more than 8,300 hygiene kits as well. Designed to provide basic hygiene necessities for a family of five, each kit includes a plastic bucket, sarong, towel, toothpaste, soap and washing powder.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Purnomo
Residents of Jakarta, along with Indonesian police, clean the city streets after floodwaters have receded.

Fear of disease

In many areas of Jakarta, the floods left behind layers of mud and garbage. There are fears that disease could spread as people stay in cramped emergency shelters or move back into houses lacking safe water, plumbing and electricity. Local health workers say tens of thousands of people have already been treated for a variety of flood-related conditions such as diarrhea and skin rashes.

Working with the government, UNICEF plans to launch an immunization campaign in which children affected by the disaster will receive protection against polio and measles, and vitamin A supplements to boost their immune systems.

The agency will also work with the government to assess the damage to more than 14,000 schools inundated by the floods.

sumber: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/indonesia_38287.html