Tag Archives: supplies

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Dominica struggles to recover from devastating storm Erika

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View of the Macoucherie river in Dominica after the Tropical Storm Erika Photo: Courtesy of Prime Minister of Dominica

The night of 26 August began as any other night for Mary Fontaine, her husband and their two children. The family live in the south-eastern community of Petite Savanne, in Dominica, a 290 sq. mile island country in the eastern Caribbean.

The Fontaines were aware of the weather forecast – which had warned of showers associated with Tropical Storm Erika, and Mary secured the family home. Such weather systems are common during Atlantic hurricane season – Erika would be the fifth tropical storm of the 2015 season. The island was at the height of a drought, and Mary was prepared for these much-needed showers.

But the more than 71,000 residents of this small, mountainous island were not prepared for the rain that pounded Dominica for 12 hours on Thursday 27 August, as Erika made its slow exit. All told, 12.64 inches of rain fell in that short period.

Disruption
As morning broke across Dominica, the full scale of the devastation became apparent. Landslides and rock falls had covered villages and blocked major roads. More than 12 major rivers had broken their banks, causing severe flooding and taking out vital bridges, disrupting water, electricity and telecommunication services.

Links with the outside world were cut, as flood waters and debris covered the tarmac at the main commercial airport in the east of the country, as well as the smaller landing strip in the capital, Roseau.

“I was roused from my sleep, and, when I got outside, it was just water, water, water everywhere,” recalls Mary. “I’ve been here all my life but never saw anything like this. It was disaster all around.” She frantically tried to account for family members who live in neighbouring houses.

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Mary Fontaine (left) who lives in the south-eastern community of Petite Savanne in Dominica survived tropical storm Erika. Her brother and his two sons are missing. © UNICEF Eastern Caribbean/2015/B.Henry

Devastation
Petite Savanne was hit hard. The community is home to 753 people. Eleven of the 20 confirmed dead and 21 of the 35 residents reported missing call that ravaged district home.  Among the missing are Mary’s brother and his two sons. Her niece was located, safe.

Devastation in the close-knit community is so widespread that the government has declared Petite Savanne and eight other communities special disaster areas. A decision was later taken to evacuate Petite Savanne and three other affected communities. All but a handful of residents in the communities have now said farewell to their homes.

Long-time resident of Petite Savanne Urban Baron described the scene as “worse than a war zone”.

“More than 50 houses were on the verge of collapse, and there were landslides everywhere,” said Urban. He described people digging through mud to free those who had been trapped under fallen houses. In many cases, the only tools were their bare hands.

Recovery
The road to recovery for Mary and the other residents of Petite Savanne – and the nearly 17,000 other residents of the island who have been affected severely by the storm – will be long and uncertain. Roads and bridges will be repaired, but emotional scars may run deep, in the island dubbed the ‘nature isle’ of the Caribbean.

The government has appealed for international assistance, and pledges are coming in.

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Supplies provided by UNICEF being packed in Barbados to be brought to Dominica. © UNICEF Eastern Caribbean/2015/D.Williams

UNICEF has so far dispatched 4,000 water purification tablets, more than 500 boxes of adult hygiene kits and 100 infant hygiene kits to the most affected areas. The organization is currently working with the Ministry of Education to ascertain the extent of damage to the education sector, ahead of the scheduled 7 September start of the school year.

Patrick Knight is UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Communication Specialist

UNICEF Ebola Survivors Sierra Leone

Five ways UNICEF is fighting Ebola

Read an updated version of this post here.

UNICEF Ebola Survivors Sierra Leone

Vandy (7), is an Ebola survivor from Sierra Leone. © UNICEF Sierra Leone/2014/Dunlop

1. Delivering supplies

We are delivering supplies that are important for the treatment and care of people who are sick with Ebola, and for continued supply of basic services. We continue to airlift essential supplies to the affected countries on a massive scale. By the first week of October we will have delivered 1300 metric tonnes and mobilized 55 flights. Read about what goes into making these deliveries happen.

UNICEF SD Ebola airlift_170914

2. Helping families protect themselves

In the coming weeks, we will be focusing on packing and shipping 50,000 Household Protection Kits. These kits contain gloves, gowns, masks, soap, chlorine and buckets. The first 9,000 of these will leave this week for Liberia. The Household Protection Kits complement the Family Hygiene kits which are already being packed and distributed in the country.

3. Preparing at-risk countries

UNICEF is also working with Governments in at-risk and neighbouring countries to prepare them for possible Ebola outbreaks. We are already sharing information with communities and developing contingency plans and stockpiles. Learn more about the work being done with communities in affected countries to raise awareness about Ebola.

4. Sending in extra staff

Building on our existing country presence in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, we are bringing in 67 additional staff members to these three most-affected countries. Another 37 staff members will be deployed in the coming weeks. We’re seeking committed professionals to join our Ebola emergency response team in West Africa.

5. Raising more funds to fight Ebola

We sent more than USD 7 million of our own resources to respond to the Ebola outbreak, including almost USD 4 million to Liberia alone. We have received approximately US 7.5 million from donors, but this is only 4 per cent of the total of USD 200 million we need to respond to this crisis. Donate to help stop the spread of Ebola.

Learn all about current Ebola outbreak, its symptoms, how it is spread, and how to prevent it:  UNICEF - Ebola is Real UNICEF - Ebola Prevention UNICEF - Ebola Spread UNICEF - Ebola Symptoms

© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1300/Jallanzo

Helping children in crisis – a record month for UNICEF

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Emergency supplies arrive in Monrovia earlier in August. © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1300/Jallanzo

At the end of this week we will mark a major milestone – over 1,000 metric tonnes (MT) of life-saving supplies will have been sent to Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia, Palestine, South Sudan and *Syria+ this month.

That’s enough to fill nineteen jumbo jets – and a record for the amount of emergency cargo going to multiple countries in 31 days. It has basically been a 24-7 operation for UNICEF’s supply community, with the departures and arrivals of airplanes spanning all hours of the day and night.

Early Tuesday, we sent a second shipment of Ebola supplies to Monrovia, Liberia, from our headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. The supplies have included emergency food rations, medicines, emergency health kits, water supplies, vaccines, hygiene kits, nutrition products, early childhood development and recreation kits for psycho-social care, tents for shelter and basic services, chlorine and supplies for health workers for Ebola control.

Today’s shipment is one of the remaining six that will be sent before the end of the month to reach children in countries facing crises. Once these six go out, they will bring the total sent by air in August to 49.

UNICEF Emergency Supplies Infographic

To put that into perspective – in a typical month we would airfreight less than a quarter of this amount. UNICEF designs its supply chain so that the majority of deliveries to countries go via sea or road as both are more economical than air. But in these cases, speed and access were the determining criteria.

At the beginning of the month, we didn’t expect the situation would unfold as it has.

We were already sending supplies to CAR, Syria+ and South Sudan when, in the second week of the month, the UNICEF team in Erbil, Iraq, alerted us that a humanitarian corridor was needed to provide a massive scale-up of support. Within days we had pre-booked charter flights and opened a new corridor, delivering several hundred metric tonnes of supplies.

So, from our perspective, what does it take to achieve all of this?

  • Experts on the ground, who advise on what is needed the most;
  • Knowledge of the products to ensure what we’re sending is right for countries and conditions we’re sending it to;
  • Timely and generous contributions from individuals, the private sector and governments;
  • Pre-arranged agreements for products which help us get the supplies as quickly as possible;
  • Forecasting for the kinds of supplies we’re likely to need the most – and having these available in warehouses;
  • Inspectors who ensure that the supplies meet quality standards;
  • Knowledge of commercial and charter flying routes and permits – to deliver the supplies without additional challenges.
  • Teams on the ground who receive and move the goods from the aircrafts to the people who need them;
  • Efficient clearing processes for incoming supplies and transit points; and
  • The right strategic and tactical partnerships including with suppliers, freight forwarders, NGOs, sister UN agencies and governments.

We also monitor each step – so in case there are any issues we can mitigate them and avoid anything that might derail a delivery.

There is a unique story for each destination but the ingredients for a successful supply delivery are the same: preparation, teamwork, innovation, timely decision making and passion – fueled by those who are the ground seeing the needs of children first-hand.

We are merely doing our job – and hoping that we’re doing it right and fast enough to make a difference for children.

 

Shanelle Hall is the Director of UNICEF Supply Division, the organization’s procurement and logistics headquarters in Copenhagen. She focuses on both the global availability and local delivery of essential supplies for children in more than 100 countries.

* Syria+ refers to Syria as well several other countries hosting Syrian refugees.

Girl from the peuhl tribe waits for water

A Sunday with UNICEF Emergencies team in Central African Republic

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Three trucks of UNICEF supplies part of armed 67-truck convoy headed to Bouar from Bangui.

February 3, 5.45am: Sunday morning at the UNICEF office in Central African Republic begins at 5.45am, when our team sees off three truckloads of supplies headed to Bouar in the north-west of the country. The UNICEF trucks joined a convoy of 67 lorries carrying humanitarian aid and other supplies, guarded by African Union forces. These truckloads were the first UNICEF supplies sent to Bouar since the last delivery over a month ago, and the medicines, blankets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and fuel are desperately needed. People living in the interior of the country are among the most vulnerable in this crisis, with humanitarian assistance hampered by lack of access due to renewed fighting along the road. Military convoys have recently become the only way to safely transport goods across the country.

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Regional chief of emergencies Grant Leaity at the Grande Mosque

8.30am: Grant, UNICEF’s emergencies expert in the region, goes with his team to the Grande Mosque in Bangui with his team to discuss the distribution of UNICEF supplies to the population seeking refuge there. There are more than 2,300 people living at the mosque. As the crisis in the Central African Republic increasingly pits communities against each other, the social fabric of a once-inclusive nation is being ripped apart. The people here are too afraid to leave the compound for fear of being attacked. The same fears keep Christian communities in displacement sites in other parts of the city. The Imam accepts the offer of humanitarian assistance from UNICEF.

After packing the supplies

WASH team members Amadou Ba and Alama Keita after loading one of the trucks headed out for distributions

9.30am: Our water and sanitation team goes to the UNICEF warehouse to load two trucks with jerrycans, soap, plastic mats, blankets, plastic sheeting for shelter and a large bladder of clean water for distribution at the Grande Mosque and to another displacement site in the suburb of PK12, where displaced families from the minority Peuhl tribe have sought refuge.

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UNICEF team members oversee the distribution of supplies at the Grande Mosque

12pm: The UNICEF team heads to the Grande Mosque to distribute the supplies. It rained the night before, and the site has turned to mud. Moments after arriving, a round of heavy gunfire breaks out just outside the compound. Plans for a distribution are put on hold. We decide to unload the supplies and leave them with the Imam to distribute to families. We make plans for another team to return the following day to build latrines. An education colleague joins us at the site, to hold a meeting with a high-level civil servant in the Ministry of Education. The man has been too scared to leave the grounds of the mosque. One of our drivers meets his former neighbour at the mosque. She left her home in fear, and hasn’t returned since. She tells him she is planning to leave the country.

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UNICEF distributes water to families in the PK12 suburb of Bangui

2pm: The UNICEF team travels to the Bangui suburb, PK12. People’s belongings are piled up on either side of the street – everything from bags of clothes and cooking utensils, to lounge suites and beds. UNICEF is the first agency to distribute to families here, and the needs are great. We arrived to yells of “The water is here!” and “UNICEF! Merci!” We were welcomed by one of the community leaders, a former UN worker who studied at Cambridge University. This crisis has affected everybody. Women approached us and told us their babies were severely malnourished. Other women showed us flesh wounds which were festering due to lack of access to medical assistance.  We came with one truck full of water, and another truck with plastic mats and blankets. Both were surrounded by people, with hundreds of hands reaching into the air, desperate for bedding and water. The supplies distributed today were not enough. UNICEF and partners will continue to work to meet growing emergency needs despite extremely difficult circumstances. Tomorrow we will return to build latrines.

All the systems that protect and nurture children – education, health, community – have to be rebuilt in Central African Republic. In the meantime, UNICEF will continue to deliver essentials to children and families in need.

Bio: Madeleine Logan is the Communications Specialist at UNICEF Central African Republic. Madeleine arrived in Bangui in mid-January and will be reporting from CAR for the next six months.

All photos by Madeleine Logan