PAHO Assists Suriname in Flood Recovery Efforts
Washington, D.C., May 17, 2006 (PAHO)—The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is providing expert disaster assistance to help Suriname cope with severe flooding that has affected up to 20,000 people and left large areas of the country submerged.
Suriname ranks fourth in the world in access to water. This hydrologic abundance is also what makes the country vulnerable to flooding. But the floods of May 2006 were the worst in memory, especially for people living on the small islands in Suriname's Eastern Rivers. Read more...Torrential rains that began falling on May 5 caused serious flooding in the country's interior, with as much as 30,000 square kilometers under water at one point, including some 157 thatched-roof villages. Thousands were forced to abandon their homes and their livelihoods.
Flooding in Suriname
A photo report
Suriname ranks fourth in the world in access to water. This hydrologic abundance is also what makes the country vulnerable to flooding. But the floods of May 2006 were the worst in memory, especially for people living on the small islands in Suriname's Eastern Rivers. Read more...
"The situation has improved somewhat in the western part of the country," says PAHO Representative Stephen Simon. "But in the eastern areas, people are living on small islands that are now completely flooded. Many people have received food rations, but clean drinking water and good sanitation are priorities, as is continued food assistance, since most of the affected families have lost all their crops."
PAHO has a permanent office in Suriname and was able to provide assistance early in the unfolding crisis. Its staff helped Suriname's National Centre for Disaster Control set up a crisis center, giving support on logistics, finance and administration, information technology, and communications.
With the country's water and sanitation under threat, PAHO brought in an international expert in sanitary engineering, who has carried out an initial assessment and made recommendations for improvement. In addition, PAHO has ordered a shipment of water purification tablets that will assure each family in the affected area an adequate supply of clean drinking water. "It's a simple measure that will help preventing cases of diarrhea among the displaced people in the area," noted Simon.
PAHO has also mobilized experts from its emergency and disaster program to assist in health needs assessment and resource mobilization. These experts are helping local health authorities reduce and control flood-associated health risks, including primarily malaria and diarrhea, and also potentially leptospirosis and typhoid fever.
At the request of Surinamese authorities, PAHO is also deploying its computerized humanitarian supply management system known as LSS/SUMA. A team of SUMA experts is providing support to the national response center and training local staff to use the system.
Additional Information - PAHO BOOKS
Management of Dead Bodies after Disasters: A field manual for first responders
Natural Disaster Mitigation in Drinking Water and Sewerage Systems: Guidelines for Vulnerability Analysis
Establishing a Mass Casualty Management System
Natural Disasters. Protecting the Public's Health
PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world's oldest public health organization. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and works with its member countries to improve the health and quality of life of all the people of the Americas.