Water, Sanitation & Hygiene: First Response in Conflicts & Natural Disasters

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 19 2018 (IPS) – When disaster strikes, or conflict rages, families soon discover their most urgent need – water.
During such times, water and sanitation experts are often the first responders to communities affected by conflict and natural disasters.
But for the one in four children around the world who live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, it is an overwhelming preoccupation and a matter of survival.
Her resilience gave fresh meaning to our job – to install a water supply in her village – which was a major camp for thousands of Rwanda’s internally displaced people.
I saw the same strength and resilience in Myanmar when I visited displaced populations of Rohingya in Rakhine state in 2013.
The lack of sanitation and hygiene made living conditions not just unbearable, but a huge risk to life especially for children and their families living on hard-to-reach islands that were only accessible by boat.
Children, once again, were visibly malnourished and although UNICEF and partner organisations were providing water, children and families still had to walk long distances to collect it.
Over the past six years, I have witnessed the humanitarian response of delivering water, sanitation and hygiene in times of conflict and disaster.
We share the strength and determination of children like Aimee and the women and girls in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and we remain committed to preserving the rights of every child to water, sanitation and hygiene.
*UNICEF launched a fundraising appeal to support children and families affected by conflict and disaster globally.

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