Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) response in Nepal earthquake: A quick review

After earthquake, hundreds of thousands people left their homes in search of safer surroundings. In many instances, the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions of new surroundings was not adequate. They were at high risk of diarrheal and contagious diseases due to reduced access to safe water and poor sanitation. Disruption of usual water sources, inadequate water supply, drinking of untreated water, insufficient number of toilets, poor hygiene practices ( lack of healthy hand washing, unclean toilets, open defecation) etc. were common. The unsanitary living conditions such as substandard sanitation, inadequate water supplies and poor hygiene made earthquake affected people especially vulnerable to various diseases including acute gastroenteritis, dysentery, cholera, salmonella typhi, hepatitis A and hepatitis E. Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) reported a cholera outbreak in Kathmandu that affected about 70 people. Three deaths along with a suspected outbreak of fever of unknown origin and diarrhea were reported in in Sindupalchok on 7th July, 2015.

Major WASH activities 
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) cluster coordinated by Department of Water Supply & Sewerage (DWSS) conducted the following activities for ensuring basic hygiene standards and providing clean water to underserved populations in areas affected.

Water Supply

  • Rapid damage assessment of affected water supply schemes
  • Emergency provision and repair of water to institutions such as schools, health posts, temporary learning centers (TLC), child/women friendly space (CFS/WFS), temporary settlements
  • Rehabilitation of existing water points including supplying pipes and fittings to normal repair of damaged water supply systems at communities
  • Testing and continuous monitoring of water quality in community, institutional wash, schools and health facilities
  • Establishing emergency water purification (or filtration) systems
  • Provision of water storage facilities, tanks or bladders incl. chlorination systems
  • Emergency water distribution using water tankers (as last resort).
  • Provision of additional water points

Sanitation

  • Rapid damage assessment of sanitation facilities in communities
  • Installation of latrines with hand washing in schools, Early Childhood Development Centers, temporary learning spaces, temporary settlements, CFS, WFS and health posts
  • Installation of emergency latrines at household/community level
  • Provision of gender separated and signed emergency latrines with hand-washing and bathing spaces in camp like settings
  • Support for solid waste management at camp like settings
  • Establishment of garbage, identification of dumping site and replacement of septic unit of temporary toilets at camp like settings

Hygiene promotion

  • Hygiene Promotion Campaign along with hygiene kits items distribution and replenishment
  • Printing and mass distribution of WASH related IEC materials
  • WASH related Radio and TV campaigns
  • Orientation on hygiene and sanitation for the community representatives
  • Organizing/establishing WASH committees in communities
  • Nominating and providing training to the community member as hygiene promoter

Challenges

  • Weak inter-clusters and inter-partners coordination mechanism in central and ground level
  • The partners and agencies could not uniformly cover the all affected districts and remained concentrated in selected districts
  • Insufficient information sharing and reporting on logistical and other supports as well as on beneficiary list from the partners and agencies

References

https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/nepal
https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/nepal/health
https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/nepal/foreign-medical-team-wg
https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/nepal/water-sanitation-hygiene


My education includes training in medicine, public health, clinical research, biostatistics and health response in complex emergency. I have more than seven years of experiences in health research (Survey, Case control studies, Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT), Health Policy and Systems Research). My areas of expertise also include the project management particularly in health sector. I have also experience and interest to work in health emergency in large population in disaster setting.

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