République centrafricaine : un million de personnes sans accès à l'eau propre

New York, Nations Unies, 20 mars 2008 - Les eaux sales, et les maladies qu'elles transmettent, menacent un million de personnes dans le nord de la République centrafricaine, une région en proie à un conflit interne. Quatorze agences humanitaires ont formé une `alliance pour l'eau´ dans le pays, sous l'égide du Fonds des Nations Unies pour l'enfance (UNICEF).

« Pour l'année 2008, les agences des Nations Unies et les organisations non-gouvernementales ont élaboré dix projets pour améliorer l'accès à l'eau propre et aux installations sanitaires dans le nord de la République centrafricaine. Sur les 10, seulement trois ont jusqu'ici reçu un financement », indique un communiqué publié aujourd'hui par le Bureau de la coordination des affaires humanitaires (OCHA).

La situation est critique dans le nord-est du pays, où la population est particulièrement exposée aux maladies transmises par l'eau. L'insécurité les empêchant de retourner dans leurs villages, les habitants sont contraints d'utiliser l'eau disponible, parfois celle, stagnante, des mares ou des rivières.

L'initiative WATSAN (Eau/Assainissement/Hygiène), dirigée par l'UNICEF, est une véritable `Alliance pour l'eau´, un partenariat formé entre 14 agences humanitaires pour réparer, forer des puits, et fournir des pompes à eau.

« Si nos projets pour l'eau reçoivent l'appui que nous avons sollicité à temps, les mécanismes de coordination que nous avons mis en place nous permettront de fournir de l'eau potable à plus de 250.000 personnes en 2008 », a affirmé Toby Lanzer, le Coordonnateur humanitaire dans le pays.



Dirty water threatens 1 million people across northern Central African Republic

New York/Geneva/Bangui, 20 March 2008 - //ochoaonline.un.org - As many as 1 million people in the conflict-affected areas of the Central African Republic (CAR) do not have access to clean water and are at risk of a host of waterborne diseases that kill thousands of people every year.

The situation is particularly dire in the north-eastern parts of the country, such as Haute Kotto, where a mere 1 per cent of people can access potable water. Further, across the conflict-torn north, tens of thousands of people have fled their villages and now live in the bush. Too afraid to return to their villages to get clean water, they are forced to resort to collecting water wherever they can find it, often from stagnant ponds or rivers in the bush. For those who have remained in their villages, the situation is often not much better - over one quarter of wells in northern CAR are currently not working, leaving thousands of villagers as exposed to waterborne diseases as the displaced population are.

To remedy this situation, water experts from 14 aid organisations have formed a partnership to ensure a comprehensive response in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WATSAN) sector, coordinating for example the repair and drilling of wells and boreholes and the provision of water pumps. The "water alliance" is lead by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, expressed his appreciation for the implementation of this progressive approach in CAR, in line with the so-called "cluster" approach of identifying sector needs.

"Having a clear leader of the water, sanitation and hygiene team, responsible for coordinating the other organisations involved and providing relief when nobody else is able to, allows us to save many more lives," said Mr. Holmes.

For 2008, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have designed ten projects to improve access to clean water and adequate sanitary facilities across northern CAR. Of the ten, only three have received funding to date. These water projects need to be carried out during the dry season, which usually ends in April, and delayed funding could put this key aspect of the aid operation in CAR at risk.

"People are dying for want of clean water. If our water projects get the support we have asked for on time, the coordination mechanisms that we have put in place will allow us to provide safe water to over 250,000 people in 2008," said Toby Lanzer, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the Central African Republic.

The WATSAN sector was identified as one of four key areas for life-saving assistance in CAR in the 2008 appeal presented to donors by the United Nations and NGOs. The appeal asks the international community to contribute $96.2 million to humanitarian action in the country, of which more than $5.6 million are needed for water and sanitation. To date, only 13 per cent of funds sought for WATSAN projects have been received.