Water high priority in Winston response

Access to clean water and sanitation will be one of the greatest needs in Fiji's Tropical Cyclone Winston response, and must be prioritised, Oxfam said today.

Clean water for drinking and hand washing is essential for the prevention of waterborne diseases after a disaster.

Oxfam humanitarian coordinator Jennifer Worthington, who is flying out to Fiji today, said responders would be prioritising the delivery of water to communities where water sources had been contaminated, or water pipes damaged.

"Clean water will be vital to prevent the risk of a secondary disaster rearing its head in the days and weeks following Tropical Cyclone Winston," Ms Worthington said.

An Oxfam water and sanitation expert from New Zealand is joining a team flying to Fiji today to support the Fijian Government led response where required.

"Oxfam has expertise in water supply, sanitation and hygiene, emergency food security and restoring livelihoods," Ms Worthington said.

"We are working with other aid agencies and local organisations to establish the extent of the damage, what resources are readily available, and where the gaps are, to establish how we can best support aid efforts."

Oxfam has further staff on standby in New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea. 

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