C. Water

3. Immediate Response

Measures to meet short-term water emergency needs are appropriate if a longer term supply system is being developed, or pending the move of the DPs to a more suitable site. In cases in which the locally available water supply is not sufficient to meet the minimum needs of the displaced population, arrangements must be made to bring in water by truck. Where this tactic is not possible, the displaced population must be moved from the site without delay.

Although the quantity of water available may meet initial minimum needs, the quality of the water may be cause for concern as it may be contaminated. Efforts to control and manage the use of contaminated water should be arranged with the community leaders of the displaced population. Otherwise, displaced persons will use whatever water is closest, regardless of quality. Steps should be taken to prevent pollution by human or animal excreta. If the water source is a stream or river, supplies should be drawn off upstream of any point of potential contamination and the intake area protected against external pollution. In addition, areas for bathing, washing, and livestock care should be designated downstream of the settlement.

Where the source is a well or spring, it must be fenced off, covered, and controlled. Prevent the affected population from drawing water with individual containers that may contaminate the source. If possible, make immediate arrangements to store water and then to distribute it at collection points away from the source. Not only does this help avoid direct contamination, but storing water can also make water safer over time as well as facilitate chlorination before distribution.

At the household level, families will need to carry and store their own water. Suitable containers (10-20 L) are essential. If families do not have their own water containers, supply buckets, jerricans, or other suitable containers. Containers must be kept clean. Narrow-mouthed containers are desirable because they discourage the dipping of hands and utensils in the container and thereby minimize the potential for contamination.

When water supplies are insufficient to meet the need, priority should be given to rationing and ensuring equitable distribution of water. Rationing is difficult to organize. The first step is to control access to sources, using full-time watchmen if necessary. Uncontrolled distributions are open to abuse. Distribution at fixed times for different sections of the camp should be organized. Vulnerable groups may need special arrangements. Every effort should be made to increase the quantity of water available so that strict rationing is unnecessary.

TOC: C. Water