ICRC gives water-supply kits, trainings to Philippine Red Cross
Manila (14 September) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently gave four water kits supply for emergency to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), as part of continuing efforts to build the national society's capacity to respond to natural disasters.
In a press release, ICRC said that the four water-supply kits for emergency would be prepositioned in four areas at high risk for climate disasters.
"They were turned over to the PNRC on Sept. 7 and will be received by four PNRC chapters in Luzon and Visayas this week," the PR added.
Each kit can purify raw water into safe drinking water?supplying liters for up to 10,000 people, said Andres Casal, the ICRC's water and habitat coordinator. A water-supply set includes a pump, water treatment unit, storage bladders and tap stands for distribution.
"One of the first problems you have to address during a disaster is access to drinking water because in most cases, the structures attached to drinking water are damaged. The high concentrations of people in one place also leads to degradation of sanitary conditions, so you have to ensure water of good quality and quantity," said Casal.
The Philippines, he pointed out, is extremely prone to disasters especially now that it is experiencing the rainy season.
"With the kits in place, trained PNRC volunteers would be able to install them in as short as half a day. These kits will be stored by PNRC chapters in Dagupan, Legazpi, Roxas and Tacloban cities until such time that it is needed by the population," he said, adding that water-supply kits have been prepositioned in Mindanao.
Supplying clean water, added Casal, also prevents the outbreak of water-borne diseases like cholera.
He said the donation, along with this year's training of around 70 PNRC volunteers on water and sanitation, were aimed at improving disaster response since the experience of Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.
The ICRC had supported the PNRC's efforts to distribute clean drinking water to families affected by the massive flooding caused by Ondoy. In flooded jails, the ICRC worked with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to restore water supply and disinfect the water.
The trainings conducted by ICRC engineers will ensure that identified PNRC volunteers would know how to install, operate and maintain water and sanitation facilities during emergency situations.
"We taught them techniques on purifying water to make it proper for human consumption, building latrines in emergency situations, and also hygiene promotion. The trainings came before the donation because people who receive the kits must know how to use them," said Casal.
Over a hundred volunteers have undergone water and sanitation training since 2006, according to Iris Von Birgelen, the ICRC delegate in charge of cooperation with PNRC.
"We do a lot of preparedness activities as part of our capacity-building for the PNRC, and our long-term commitment to support the national society. We are not only there when things have happened. There's a whole lot of work beforehand to support PNRC in further enhancing their capacity to respond to disaster," she said.
Though the ICRC's task consists mainly in serving people affected by armed conflict, Von Birgelen stressed that the organization is prepared to support and work with the PNRC during major natural disasters, particularly in water and sanitation and restoring family links. (ICRC with PIA-Samar) [top]