Tens of millions of litres of clean drinking water is on its way from a Canadian Relief Agency’s Etobicoke warehouse to the drought and famine-stricken Sahel region in West Africa.
GlobalMedic’s Rapid Response Team loaded its shipment of 3.2 million Aquatab water purification tablets and 330,000 PUR sachets into cartons and onto trucks Monday morning to transport by sea container to its UNICEF partners on the ground in Mauritania.
More than 18 million people in the area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity and more than one million children younger than five years old are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, the United Nations (UN) reports.
The region including the countries of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and parts of Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria is currently facing a host of issues, including drought, high grain prices, environmental degradation and population displacement, coupled with chronic poverty and vulnerability, the UN reports.
Normally, GlobalMedic teams set up hospitals and water purification units at ground zero in disaster zones. In Mauritania, UNICEF’s Mauritania country office will distribute the water purification items through NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) on the ground.
Clean drinking water is critical to protect people from water-borne diseases.
“There’s famine, a food crisis and drought,” Matt Capobianco, GlobalMedic’s manager of emergency programs said in an interview. “Any type of situation where resources are stretched, there is always a lack of clean drinking water.”
In October, United Nations’ secretary general Ban Ki-moon appointed former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as his new special envoy for the Sahel region in West Africa.