AfricaEnvironmentNewsDRC Volcanic Eruption: UNICEF Working to Restore Water Supply Amid Cholera Threat

NEW YORK —  The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is working with partners to restore water to people affected by volcanic eruptions in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

UNICEF said on Monday that the agency was working to restore water supply to roughly 200,000 people, including some 100,000 children, affected by the volcanic eruption in Goma, DRC.

The eruption of Mount Nyiragongo on 22 May melted mains water pipes and damaged a huge 5,000m³ reservoir.

According to him, without access to safe water and sanitation, children and families are at heightened risk of waterborne diseases, such as cholera.

UNICEF emergency specialist, Hye Sung said, “Cholera is particularly dangerous for the very young, the very old and the undernourished, so an outbreak could have disastrous consequences for children.

“Children under age five had the highest incidence of cholera and were more likely to die from it, so it’s critical we ensure that families have access to safe water as soon as possible.

Thirty people were killed and some 3,500 others lost their homes due to the volcano eruption,’’ Sung said.

In the wake of the crisis, scores of people fled Goma for neighbouring towns, either because their homes were destroyed by lava or the authorities advised them to leave over fears of another eruption.

Together with domestic and international partners, UNICEF is working on the water issue, including through supporting the state-owned water company.

UNICEF is also supporting state-owned water company to redirect and protect a by-pass piping system that will send supply from the pumping station next to Lake Kivu, into part of the main water system.

As previous cholera epidemics in Goma started when residents collected dirty contaminated water for drinking, UNICEF has installed 15 emergency station chlorination points close to the lake.

The situation in Buhene, a district that was flattened by lava, illustrates the impact of the water shortages while hundreds there had to queue for water provided from a truck hooked up to a pump, as a temporary measure.

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