DUSHANBE, Tajikistan, 23 August 2010 - UNICEF said today that more than 3,000 people displaced by flooding in southern Tajikistan now benefit from safe drinking water provided by UNICEF and regional government agencies in Khuroson district.
In May 2009, severe flooding and mudslides in two thirds of the country temporarily - and in some cases permanently - displaced thousands of people. The families benefitting from the new water supply system lost their homes, cattle and belongings in the disaster.
The new infrastructure brings safe drinking water directly to every house in one village of displaced people. UNICEF has found considerable evidence that household access to safe drinking water prevents the risk of water contamination that exists whenever communities must collect water at a shared water point and transport it home to store for use.
"Safe drinking water is critical for children's survival and development, particularly in the aftermath of disasters," said Hongwei Gao, UNICEF Country Representative in Tajikistan. "Without drinking water and sanitation, diarrhoea and water-borne diseases spread quickly, affecting significantly the lives of children and women."
Upon arriving in their new settlement, a village without water or adequate sanitation facilities, displaced children were at risk of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. Before the new water supply system was built, people in the village - mostly children - fetched drinking water from neighbouring villages and used water from irrigation ditches for washing and other needs. Children often drank water directly from these ditches.
Only 48 per cent of people in Tajikistan's rural areas have access to safe drinking water.
UNICEF responded from the start by providing affected families with water tanks and jerry cans for water storage, temporary latrines and washing facilities, water purification, hygiene and disinfection means. UNICEF mobilised local NGOs to educate displaced families about simple but crucial hygiene practices like handwashing with soap.
The construction of the water supply system in Shokhrukh was financially supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and UNICEF.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information, please contact:
Alexander Sodiqov, UNICEF Tajikistan
Tel + 992 (918) 31 00 57