May 21, 2013 — International Rescue Committee teams in Chad are trucking emergency water supplies into the country’s Tissi region to aid thousands of refugees who fled there in recent months to escape worsening violence in Darfur, Sudan.
“It is a race against time to get the supplies into Tissi and get critical services up and running before the rainy season begins in the next couple of weeks,” says Felix Leger, who runs IRC operations in Chad. “The rains will turn Tissi into an inaccessible island. As its roads become rivers, we will become dependent on helicopters to get additional aid deliveries in.”
IRC trucks are carrying materials and equipment needed to set up a mini-station to pump, treat and distribute water from Lake Tissi. A team of six technicians has been deployed to set up the system, which in its initial phase will provide 70,000 liters of clean water daily—enough potable water for 5,000 people a day to drink, cook and bathe.
The United Nations estimates that some 50,000 people have fled to Chad’s Tissi region from violence-ridden areas of Darfur, Sudan since January and are living in makeshift shelters in eight areas. They include Sudanese refugees as well as Chadians who had been living in Sudan.
“An IRC emergency assessment found an alarming lack of clean water and sanitation where the refugees and returnees are settling,” says Leger. “People are consuming water from the lake where they are also bathing and taking their animals to drink. And with only 10 latrines in the entire locality, people are also defecating near the lake. It’s a health crisis waiting to happen in an area already prone to outbreaks of disease during the rainy season.”
Leger says the IRC will also launch a health and hygiene promotion campaign as a means of preventing disease and its spread.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.