IRC Distributes Water to Goma's Displaced
|Bladders like this one are filled by tanker trucks to supply clean drinking water to Goma residents driven from their homes. (Photo: IRC)|
Most of the half-million Congolese who fled a devastating volcanic eruption in Goma last week have returned to their ruined communities and the International Rescue Committee is on the scene providing vital services.
The IRC setup two water distribution points today, one on either side of Goma - taking the lead in distributing clean drinking water while the city's water system is repaired. Thousands of displaced Congolese formed a line to fill containers.
"Additional water collection centers are planned as more drinking water arrives by boat and truck from our Bukavu program on the southern shore of Lake Kivu," says Michael Despines, the IRC's director in eastern Congo. "Another IRC boat arrived today to transport additional water bladders to troubled areas west of Goma."
The IRC is also set to begin construction of latrines and other sanitation facilities in areas of Goma where the displaced have massed.
As lava flows snaked through Goma last Thursday and Friday, an estimated 250,000 Congolese fled to Rwanda and as many fled to villages in eastern Congo - north, west and south of the city. Some 100,000 went to the town of Sake, where the IRC is providing support to health centers. Elsewhere in the region, IRC healthcare staff are moving in to provide basic services including treatment for diarrhea, malaria, respiratory infections and dehydration.
Speaking to National Public Radio from Goma, IRC's Despines says the lava destroyed some 40 percent of the city. "Walls of lava are blocking entire streets and there's one huge section of the city that was a large residential neighborhood and that's all just completely covered in lava now," he said. "Many homes were just completely wiped out or burned down."
The IRC is trucking in plastic sheeting and basic construction materials to provide temporary shelter to needy populations. The IRC is also sending a team to Goma to identify children who may have been separated from their parents in the chaos of the rushed evacuation and reunify them with their parents.