Storms raise risk of water contamination inRohingya camps

Published: June 27, 2018 13:20:57

COX’S BAZAR: Heavy rainfall in Cox’s Bazar earlier this month has put major strain on drainage systems in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps, according to IOM engineers, who predict it will cost at least USD 1 million to clear blocked channels and maintain them to prevent dangerous flooding in future, according to a report by reliefweb.int.

Almost a million Rohingya refugees, who fled violence in Myanmar, are living under tarpaulins on Cox’s Bazar’s crowded, bare, sandy hillsides in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp.

Efficient canals and drainage systems are crucial to prevent flooding and the build-up of stagnant water, both of which can lead to dangerous and life-threatening contamination of clean water supplies and create environments in which deadly diseases can thrive.

Despite intense efforts by IOM and other agencies, who have been working with the government of Bangladesh to install crucial drainage infrastructure to ready the camps for the cyclone and monsoon season, unusually heavy rainfall in the first half of June filled many canals and drains with sediment, dangerously restricting water flow.

Roads, shelters and services were also affected by the downpours and IOM staff have been working round the clock to assess and repair damage. But according to IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar, Manuel Pereira, the impact on the canals and drainage system is of particular concern.

“The extremely heavy rains pushed down large amounts of silt and soil from the hillsides into the canals and drains. There are now areas where water can no longer flow through them,” he said.

“It is imperative that we get these cleared as soon as possible. We will also need funding to keep clearing them through the monsoon months ahead. Preventing the spread of large amounts of contaminated water through the camps is a matter of life and death,” he added.


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