Nepal: Monsoons pose serious health and sanitation threat to quake-affected children

by Plan International | planglobal | Plan International
Monday, 29 June 2015 13:56 GMT

A risk of water-borne diseases and worsened sanitation conditions could bring more devastation to disaster-affected communities in Nepal. Credit: Peter Bregg/Plan International

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* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

KATHMANDU, NEPAL – The monsoon season has started in Nepal, bringing not only torrential rains and triggering landslides, but a risk of water-borne diseases and worsened sanitation conditions that could bring more devastation to disaster-affected communities in Nepal, says child-rights humanitarian NGO, Plan International.

In such harsh conditions, it is often children who are most vulnerable to health outbreaks, particularly in cold temperatures and in poor sanitation conditions.

“We hope this monsoon will not bring another disaster. Children who currently live without access to clean water and who lack proper shelter are at risk of infections and diseases, including diarrhea, the second largest killer of children in Nepal,” said Mattias Bryneson, Country Director for Plan Nepal.

Since the 25 April earthquake, Plan International has supported affected communities, including women and children, female-headed households, hard-to-reach communities and other marginalised groups, to prepare for the monsoon season and mitigate potential risks around health, sanitation and nutrition.

“After the earthquake, existing water facilities and household toilets were damaged, many beyond repair. Without access to sanitation and hand washing facilities, or safe and clean drinking water, the risk of infectious and water-borne diseases becomes a very worrying reality,” said Bryneson.

“I am not afraid of earthquakes, but I’m worried about landslides when the rain comes. We have tried to make our shelter stronger so that it will last three months. We have a drainage system in place but I’m worried that the trees will fall over us,” said Nava*, a 16-year-old girl from Dolakha district.

Sanitation and health are among the top priorities that children have identified during consultations with Plan International and partners. Many households have no access to safe drinking water and boys and girls are forced to defecate in the open after their houses, including their toilets, collapsed.

“I'm very concerned about what will happen during the monsoons. We already have children coming to our facilities with diarrhea and pneumonia due to the fact that they have been staying outside without access to clean water,” says Doctor Duga*, operating in a makeshift hospital after his General Hospital in Dolakha collapsed in the earthquake.

Plan International is helping people to prepare for the monsoon season by distributing shelter materials, blankets, food, water kits and hygiene kits in four of the earthquake-affected districts, reaching more than 179,724 individuals, including over 75,000 children. To date, Plan International has supported individuals to have access to safe drinking water by distributing more than 30,000 water kits, which include water containers and purification tablets.

“We’re in the middle of a huge humanitarian response and this work may be hampered by the rainy season if roads are blocked by landslides and floods. That’s why we are building up local stocks in isolated areas and trying to distribute as much as we can before the rain gets heavy,” said Bryneson.

Plan has distributed 42,150 tarpaulins and 32,553 food packs in eleven (11) districts. Plan has also built 50 Child Friendly Spaces and 47 Temporary Learning Spaces – safe spaces for children to resume their education and receive psychosocial support – that include adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as help desks that provide protection, education, shelter and health information.

Plan International has launched an international appeal to help fund the distribution of aid and relief supplies: Donate now.

*Name have been changed to protect identities

ENDS

Staff from Plan International in Nepal and staff at the Asia Regional Office and headquarters are available for interviews. To set up an interview, contact:

In Kathmandu:
Christelyn Sibugon, Emergency Response Communications Specialist
Mobile: +977 9802 058365 | Email: christelyn.sibugon@plan-international.org

In Bangkok:
Jessica Lomelin, Communications Specialist, Email: Jessica.lomelin@plan-international.org
Skype: jessicanicole621

In London:
Angela Singh, Press Officer, Email: angela.singh@plan-international.org Mobile: +44 (0) 7773 636 180

About Plan International: Founded over 78 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world. We work in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.