Samoans urged to boil water | Pacific Beat

Samoans urged to boil water

Samoans urged to boil water

Updated 11 January 2013, 12:54 AEDT

People in Samoa are being urged to boil their drinking water no matter what the source.

Oxfam's Pacific Humanitarian Manager Carlos Calderon says his group, the Red Cross, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and the Samoan government are all working closely together in getting help to those affected by Cyclone Evan.

300 people are still in evacuation centres.

Mr Calderon tells Bruce Hill some people have had their homes destroyed in heavy flooding which followed the cyclone.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Oxfam's Pacific Humanitarian Manager Carlos Calderon.

CALDERON: Until last week there was in Apia eight evacuation centres operating. OK, four of them were directly management by the government authorities and more or less we were talking about 800 people. And there is not a clear number because there were a lot of people staying there during the day, but in the night, almost they were returning to their home. At this moment on Saturday, it was decided by the government that this was the moment to respond back these families to their homes. Some of them have not returned, especially those ones who have severely affected or completely destroyed their homes because of the floods in the sides of the river and these families are still staying. Right now, at this moment, there are two evacuation centres still operating and we are distributing water to these two evacuation centres. We possibly are talking about 200 to 300 people.

HILL: So what is that they're lacking at their homes? Are their homes destroyed or they don't have power or water or all three?

CALDERON: No, basically, the most affected are the ones who are staying and the ones that are in the sides of the river that was flooded during the cyclone. This area is a low lying area and it's the natural course of the river, that when the cyclone arrives, it is flooded very fast and flooded with a lot of material, so many of the houses were affected or even destroyed. And basically these families are the ones that are still staying in the evacuation centres.

HILL: So what's going to happen to these 300 people? Are they going to have their homes rebuilt or what sort of help is available to them?

CALDERON: Well, this is part of the discussion. We are trying to address things in the best way. Some officials are relying on the extended families capacities to hold them for awhile until they can rebuild, but we are concerned and we evaluating the vulnerable ones, especially the ones who has lost or compromised their livelihood, especially the ones who are working handcraft and artisan that mainly work from their homes or those self employees that have been affected, because they're struggling without home, to identify them and to try to address, to rebuild by increasing in some way their income. This is what we are trying to address at this moment, because we are ending the phase of emergency. Oxfam is basically involved in the water distribution to those areas, and at the same time, the areas to the south coast, to the southwest coast and further. In the district the water is not fully recovered yet, because they were having major damage. We are working in coordination with ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency), Red Cross, the Samoa Water Authority as well and Disaster Management Office from the moment, the DMO. We're coordinating with them actually we're distributing the water. Red Cross is providing water tanks, temporary water tanks allocated in specific areas to make this water available. As well, Red Cross is treating the water and we are chlorinating the water in that we are distributing in Apia City.

HILL: There are a lot of organisations working together, international aid organisations, local aid organisations and the government. Is everyone working together very well or are there any arguments about where the priorities for relief should go?

CALDERON: We are actually coordinating closely with Red Cross. We are working in partnership with ADRA and informing what we are doing to DMO and some water authorities. But with Samoa Water Authority, we are at this moment not working together, like in partnership, like we are sharing the information and in order to not overlap the distributing of water in other areas. At this moment, we are more or less distributing, we have already been distributing almost half-a-million of litres of water, of safe water and we are in an average of more or less 30,000 litres a day. This is more or less or 30,000 to 32,000 litres a day. Clearly our biggest concern is more or less about the quality of the water, because many families are still taking water from the streams, and these streams are showing, a presence of bacteria. So that why some of the Red Cross as Oxfam in partnership with ADRA also coordinating water. But we need more stronger messages from the government to make the people to be aware of that and boil the water no matter with what the source is.


Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill


Bruce is one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists with nearly 20 years covering the region and has won several international awards.

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