Cyclone Survivors Travel to Yangon to Receive Water Treatment Training from the IRC
“The priority is to give communities the knowledge and tools required to improve their health situation,” says Sam Gonzaga, the IRC water and sanitation specialist leading the Yangon trainings. “We’ve come up with a fast and practical way to do that.”
So far, IRC public health specialists have conducted four workshops in Yangon for staff of the Myanmar Red Cross and selected villagers from three hard-hit townships.
More than a dozen community educators were provided with training and visual materials on such topics as hand-washing, food preparation, water purification, waste disposal, the use of mosquito nets and basic treatment of common ailments.
Gonzaga led several workshops on the installation and operation of Trekker Units and other water treatment equipment, which the IRC subsequently gave to trainees, along with batteries and other necessary items to the run the systems. Each of the varying water treatment units can provide 400 to 1,500 people with sufficient quantities of clean drinking water daily.
With a new IRC water kit in tow, two of Gonzaga’s trainees returned home this week to the neighboring villages of Magin Bin and Thingan Gome in Ngapudaw. The villages where thrashed by last month’s devastating cyclone and now the only water sources for the 2,200 residents – two small ponds – are contaminated by saltwater and sewage.
The newly trained technicians plan to install the water treatments units right away with support from local IRC and Red Cross workers who will also help them build 40 latrines.
“There are dire needs in these and so many other villages in Ngapudaw, where we are focusing our relief efforts,” says Gonzaga. “But we’re confident that restoring access to clean water and sanitation and promoting good hygiene practices will reduce and prevent cases of dysentery and other conditions, which have been on the rise.”
Meanwhile, IRC relief teams working with the Myanmar Red Cross continue to deliver medicines to hospitals and clinics and other vital shelter and health supplies to cyclone survivors in five townships struck by the cyclone. By boat and truck, the aid teams have carried out over 50 deliveries to date to nearly 36,000 people in dozens of remote villages.
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