Sep 25, 2006

UNICEF Accelerates Sudan Water Chlorination Programme

UNICEF is accelerating its water chlorination programme in Darfur in order to lessen area’s number of diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera.

This program has already protected some 3 million people from infection. Good-hygiene campaigns are estimated to have reached an additional 32 million people.

UNICEF has been working closely with the Federal Ministry of Health of the Government of National Unity, as well as state authorities, to treat water sources and storage systems. While acute watery diarrhoea continues to be reported in a number of states, fatalities have fallen from 6 percent to 3 percent in the last month.

“While there are many partners on the ground ready and willing to provide support, it is the leadership of the health authorities in each state that is critical to winning the battle against this killer disease,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Representative in Sudan.

A total of 7,000 cases have been reported since April, but the number of new cases is slowing as water quality improves and people become more aware of what causes diarrhoeal disease. Chaiban said community management of water supplies and better hygiene are critical to tackling the disease.

“Drinking chlorinated water that is stored in a hygienic way is not going to harm anyone,” said Chaiban. “Untreated water, however, presents a very real risk of dying from diarrhoeal disease – whether you take water from a well or from a donkey cart or from a piped system, and especially if it comes from a river source.”

The cholera response programme has been largely supported by contributions from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office, the US Government and the multi-donor Common Humanitarian Fund.