Date Published: 16 July 2012
Help against cholera on way to 120,000 people in northern Mali
Around 120,000 people, including 60,000 children, are expected to benefit from the supply of 20,000 water, sanitation and hygiene kits that UNICEF is sending to northern Mali as part of its emergency response to a cholera outbreak there.
The emergency kits include purification tablets, storage containers and other equipment in tended for the Gao and Timbuktu areas in the North of Mali.
Since the start of the cholera outbreak about 10 days ago, six children have died among 56 cases reported in Wabaria, Labbezanga and Ansongo in Gao region on the banks of the Niger River. Although cholera is endemic in the countries of the Sahel, the crisis in northern Mali combined with the massive displacement of people and the onset of the rainy season, is increasing fears of a considerable increase in cholera cases during the coming weeks.
" We must do everything we can to prevent the further spread of cholera in northern Mali," said Frederic Sizaret, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Mali.
" With these kits, 20,000 families in the North will have access to cleaner water and will be better able to protect themselves against the spread of the 'dirty hands' disease, especially children, who are the most vulnerable," he added.
When the outbreak was first reported, UNICEF sent three trucks loaded with medicine and equipment to help its partners in Gao respond to the emergency. Cholera prevention for 500,000 people is in progress in high-risk areas. The distribution of kits is accompanied by explanations about how to treat water and about recommended hygiene procedures. Each of the 20,000 kits, which will be distributed this week, contain collapsible jerry cans and buckets, and a six-month supply of soap and water purification tablets for a family of six.
" The cholera epidemic on top of the nutrition and security crises currently faced by Mali, increases people's vulnerability and risks endangering current emergency response efforts. We urgently need more funding to respond," Mr. Sizaret said.
Funding is desperately needed. As of 16th July 2012 UNICEF has stated that it has received only only 12% of the US$15.8 million needed to respond to the crisis in Mali.