Give her clean water ... and you'll give her a healthy future

Oxfam Solomons response in full swing

Thanks to the generous support of major institutional donors and the corporate sector in Australia and New Zealand, international aid agency Oxfam continues its humanitarian response to meet the needs of the thousands of people left homeless in the aftermath of the Solomon Islands earthquake and tsunami.

"The Oxfam team on the ground is aiming to provide support to some 67 camps, targeting around 3,500 people. We have already carried out initial camp assessments to identify the most pressing needs. So far our teams delivered 12 water tanks, allocated to larger camps, and provided tools and materials to build 61 latrines. We also started the process of training 26 health professionals to help prevent any disease outbreaks and procuring tents for distribution to worst-affected families" said Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Australia.

Oxfam's priority is to restore and improve access to water and sanitation facilities for people living in temporary camps in Gizo and on the south west coast, as well as provide additional shelter. Oxfam is currently helping local authorities with the provision of clean drinking water to the camps; working to build sanitation facilities including toilets and hand-washing facilities; working with other organisations to promote safe hygiene practices; and providing transitional shelter and assessing future shelter needs.

"The Australian and New Zealand governments have responded quickly and generously. AusAID allocated AUD $150,000 for shelter and public health promotion support as well as some in-kind support, while an existing grant of NZD $ 200,000 from NZAid's Humanitarian Action Fund will be used for water and sanitation activities. In addition, Lonely Planet provided a generous contribution of $50,000 to the Oxfam response," said Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand.

In addition to its in-country staff, Oxfam's 7-person team on the ground includes two Pacific Program Coordinators, two water and sanitation engineers, a public health and gender specialist, a logistician and a shelter specialist.

"The response to this emergency is complex and will require a long-term approach, at the same time looking at building back better, involving the affected communities in long-term solutions and helping them become more resilient to future disasters. Building local capacity to be able to respond will be the key to success of our efforts," concluded Andrew Hewett.

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