For Immediate Release
James Phelan Communications Officer
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ACF Targets Water and Sanitation Needs in Crisis in Eastern D.R. Congo
Lack of clean water and sanitation threatens hundreds of thousands in North Kivu
NEW YORK - A fragile lull in the fighting in North Kivu has allowed access for the
humanitarian assistance needed by hundreds of thousands of internally
displaced people (IDPs) fleeing insecurity in the eastern D.R. Congo.
The international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF)
is currently focused on improving water and sanitation conditions in
the camps where the displaced have relocated, but acknowledges the
urgent need to reinforce programs aimed at addressing malnutrition
while monitoring food security at the household level.
"The threat of major water-borne epidemics has been contained for
the moment, thanks to initial emergency interventions, but access to
clean water and sanitation in the camps remains a major issue,"
explains Etienne Faubert, Action Against Hunger's Country Director in
the Eastern D.R. Congo-"the situation can very quickly deteriorate as
many cholera cases are still being reported in the area."
Action Against Hunger's emergency interventions target several camps
of up to 12,500 people with regular distributions of clean water,
construction of some 300 latrines, distributions of thousands of clean
jerry cans (for transporting potable water from clean sources), and the
provision of up to five tons of soap. ACF's field teams have also held
routine community training sessions to promote the importance of
hygiene in the prevention of cholera and water borne diseases. In the
case of a sudden outbreak or epidemic, ACF's field experts have
prepared the materials needed to quickly launch chlorination activities
of all water and sanitation points in the intervention area.
ACF's field teams in neighboring Uganda have also launched
interventions in southwestern Kisoro-along Uganda's shared border with
the D.R. Congo's North Kivu province-in camps where thousands of
Congolese refugees have relocated. ACF's humanitarian activities on the
Ugandan side of this regional crisis also hinge on the emergency
provision of clean water and access to proper sanitation.
Action Against Hunger has launched a broad survey to assess the
nutritional and food security needs of the displaced. "When security
allows it, some of the displaced periodically return to their fields to
prepare their crops for January and February," states Mr. Faubert, "but
we still need to get an accurate sense of the extent to which crops
have been destroyed, pillaged, or abandoned, in order to define the
level of assistance these communities may need in the near future."
Indeed, poor harvests this year would mean a scarcity of seed stock for
the next planting season, threatening to reinforce a vicious cycle of
food insecurity over the mid term.
The nutritional situation remains fragile even if currently under
control with the support of humanitarian organizations-the number of
malnourished individuals was high even before this latest round of
displacement. In response, ACF has begun extending its support to
national health structures-providing expertise in the detection and
treatment of malnutrition in three new nutrition centers along the
shore of Lake Kivu (in addition to the 14 nutrition points already
supported in the Kivus)-while training local communities to detect
cases of malnutrition.
Action Against Hunger in the D.R. Congo
Action Against Hunger
has worked in the D.R. Congo since 1996, implementing programs in
nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, and capacity building
at the local and national levels. Targeting areas affected by conflict
and nutritional crises, ACF currently works in the provinces of North
Kivu, South Kivu, Bandundu, Katanga, Orientale, Equateur, and Kasai
Oriental, supporting some 700,000 beneficiaries through integrated
programs aimed at restoring self-sufficiency.
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Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF), an international relief and development organization committed to saving the lives of malnourished children and families, provides sustainable access to safe water and long-term solutions to hunger. For nearly three decades, ACF has pursued its vision of a world without hunger by combating hunger in emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster, and chronic food insecurity.