June marked the beginning of the Central African Republic’s extremely rainy season. During this annual season, CAR experiences daily thunderous rainstorms that leave dire destruction in their wake. The heavy downpours destroy homes and tents, and the ubiquitous water pools into stagnant bodies of dirty and diseased water. The flooding in Central African Republic has caused contractions of cholera and infections, especially amongst those with wounds inflicted by local crime and violence.
The CAR is already plagued by chronic poverty and deadly crime. Additionally, there are an estimated 220,000 displaced people inhabiting Bangui alone in temporary “homes” that resemble eclectic forts rather than crucial shelter.
The flooding in Central African Republic is destroying the makeshift shelters the locals have made from any materials available, such as tarps, wood, and cloth. It penetrates their temporary roofs and douses them in the night, keeping them from meaningful sleep. UNICEF has rightfully referred to their situation as a ‘watery purgatory.’ The resultant stagnant water is also responsible for cultivating other deadly diseases such as malaria and typhoid, especially among young children who can be less weary of the dangers of playing near diseased, festering water pools. The situation also has people trekking through thick, deep mud.
Jacques Terrenoire, the Country Director for the Central African Republic at Mercy Corps. describes the dire circumstances: “Now that it has rained, people are just walking in the mud… There are often between five and ten people living under a shoddy shelter, and if there is a strong wind it could be torn away.”
Thankfully, Mercy Corps and UNICEF are both intervening in CAR and providing priceless, much needed aid through several means. UNICEF has, in conjunction with other groups, created a precautionary Cholera Treatment Center at the airport in Bangui. Thus, in the event of a cholera outbreak, officials will be prepared to treat the local population.
UNICEF is also distributing soap and water to those present, and they are building latrines throughout the country as well. Mercy Corps is practicing heavy relief in the CAR as well; the organization maintains teams throughout the country to teach displaced peoples about cleanliness and hygiene in addition to distributing clean water and clean hygiene materials such as soap and containers for water.
— Arielle Swett
Sources: MercyCorps, UNICEF Connect
Photo: Save the Children