Background: Typhoon Haiyan, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, has affected an estimated 9.9 million people in the Philippines. The storm, which made landfall on November 8, caused widespread devastation, displacing 3.4 million people and destroying over 1 million houses, according to the United Nations. This rare and very powerful storm has severely disrupted the delivery of critical health services, and access to safe water continues to be a serious problem for the affected regions.
Since access to affected areas has improved with the clearing of roads and the re-opening of most airports, relief efforts from humanitarian organizations and the Government of the Philippines have scaled up substantially. While humanitarian assistance is getting through to the hard hit areas urban areas with high populations, efforts must continue to extend to the rural and remote villages, many of which have not received any assistance to-date.
Urgent Need for Intervention: Despite large-scale efforts to rehabilitate water systems in the affected areas, many rural and remote regions still lack clean sources of water today. People may have to walk up to 10 miles to access clean water, or rely on unsafe water sources including surface water or open wells. Getting water to people –and storing it – is also a challenge. Although the roads have opened up, bringing water via trucks to large areas is limited due to a shortage of trucks and fuel. Additionally, limited water storage capacity is making it difficult for families to meet their daily water needs. Making matters worse, the devastation of basic household infrastructure – toilets and latrines – and the disruption of trash and waste removal in affected communities has put their populations at-risk for outbreaks of preventable water-borne diseases.
International Medical Corps Emergency Response: International Medical Corps is on the ground in the Philippines providing medical services through ten mobile medical units in some of the hardest-hit areas following Typhoon Haiyan. International Medical Corps is also conducting water, sanitation and hygiene; medical; and mental health assessments in affected communities, and has begun nutrition screening and treatment referral for children.
By working through mobile medical units, International Medical Corps has been able to provide critical health services on remote islands where families struggle to access medical care and basic resources
International Medical Corps, along with local health authorities, has begun to focus on the public health threat of epidemics in communities where access to safe water is unsteady or not possible. In conjunction with the delivery of medical services in affected areas, International Medical Corps is identifying unmet water, sanitation, and hygiene needs in these areas. International Medical Corps is focusing on providing water, sanitation, and hygiene support to temporary health structures; distributing hygiene and water kits; and improving the availability of water through repairs to distribution systems and treatment of water sources.
A Proven Solution: As part of its partnership with DayOne Response to deliver clean water during emergencies, International Medical Corps is working to transport and distribute approximately 200 of DayOne Response’s Waterbags and P&G Purifier of Water to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The Waterbag when combined with P&G’s Purifier of Water can provide clean, drinkable water for individuals and communities directly affected by the disaster. International Medical Corps is transporting them to its bases of operation in the Philippines for further distribution through its mobile or stationary health services in areas with limited access to clean water, as needed. The Waterbags were piloted previously during International Medical Corps’ response to the Haiti Earthquake in 2011, and proved to be a potent solution to water shortages that arise during the recovery period after a widespread disaster. Tricia Compas-Markman, DayOne Response’s CEO, had this to say about deploying the life-saving Waterbags to the Philippines:
“The collaboration between DayOne Response, Procter and Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, and International Medical Corps, enables our teams to reach families affected by the typhoon with innovative solutions for clean drinking water. This is taking form by providing them direct access to clean drinking water through the DayOne Waterbag™ and P&G Purifier of Water™. The robust water purification system supports International Medical Corps comprehensive WASH approach in both households and health clinics, empowering communities to directly to treat their own water. This is an exciting effort to be involved with!”
The DayOne Response Waterbag has the potential to lessen the aftermath of disasters by providing communities the means to purify drinking water on the family and community level. The Waterbags can be prepositioned in regions vulnerable to disaster, ensuring the solution to the problem is present before the disaster strikes.
DayOne Response and International Medical Corps have continued to dedicate resources to the pilot program. In June, International Medical Corps and DayOne Response developed a concept for an international fund dedicated to supporting innovations in humanitarian assistance. The concept covers not only the pilot program, but evaluation for the pilot – a step that is crucial to determining the most effective way to distribute and teach communities about the Waterbag. The development of the concept included the input of International Medical Corps’ Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene experts ensuring that DayOne and International Medical Corps developed the pilot plan with the highest standards.
In July, International Medical Corps and DayOne Response traveled to California to present DayOne Response’s social business model and the pilot program to another potential donor that focuses on social entrepreneurship. International Medical Corps and DayOne Response discussed their plans and the Waterbag technology in detail with the donor. Further discussions are now ongoing about how the donor might support the pilot program in the near future.
Additionally, in July, DayOne Response and International Medical Corps narrowed down the ideal region to pilot the Waterbag as East Africa. This came as a result of several conversations between DayOne Response and International Medical Corps’ field and technical teams looking at several factors including flood seasons, insecurity, and existing community practices. To kick start efforts, our next step is to send sample bags to International Medical Corps’ field teams in East Africa, where field and technical teams will determine the size, scale, and other parameters of the pilot program. International Medical Corps and DayOne Response will document the process with photos and videos and will use it in its continued promotion of the effort.
Currently, International Medical Corps and DayOne Response are preparing to highlight the DayOne Waterbag project at the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative meeting in late September to attract new partners to support the project.
“Each year, over 255 million people are affected by natural disasters, and without access to clean water, they face potentially life-threatening waterborne illnesses. We have the solution to disrupt this trend. With a DayOne Waterbag and P&G’s Purifier of Water packets, families and communities are empowered to treat their own water on site, converting even muddy, bacteria-ridden water into clean drinking water. When roads are impassible, a single UH-1Y helicopter can carry about 5000 DayOne Waterbags, providing enough water to support 20,000 individuals. The Waterbag is durable enough that those first-day units will still be functional months later.
In Haiti, we met Dimitry, who regularly walked 9 miles to water distribution points, only to get a single 1-liter water bottle, which was not enough for his family. He told us the DayOne Waterbag would change everything for him, including providing his family with clean drinking water and hope to recover from the disaster. With the first-responder focus of International Medical Corps and field experts, we have the ability to make this make this a reality for Dimitry and other communities affected by natural disasters. We are working together to save lives and provide clean drinking water on day one.” – Tricia Compas-Markman, Founder & CEO of DayOne Response
With DayOne Response, International Medical Corps remains committed to piloting 500 DayOne Waterbags in disaster-prone communities. As announced at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the Commitment to Action to address the lack of clean water following natural disasters continues with DayOne Response as we both work to identify funding for the pilot project.
This is where you can help.
International Medical Corps and DayOne response need your support. When a disaster happens, whether it be in Kenya, South Sudan, or Haiti, people need water immediately to survive. Water that has not been purified will oftentimes result in an outbreak of disease.
The Waterbag pilot program could change the way we respond to disasters. The Waterbag could be prepositioned in disaster areas, offering a response to the disaster before it happens. It can easily be trekked to the most remote disaster-hit areas, providing a compact and sustainable solution to a problem that plagues vulnerable populations.
Help support International Medical Corps and DayOne Response. Donate today.
Water-borne diseases such as cholera can strike and spread quickly, aggravated by the lack of clean water and poor sanitation. In October of 2010, cholera broke out in Artibonite, Haiti, and International Medical Corps was one of the very first medical organizations to respond. By aggressively rolling out a network of cholera treatment centers and mobile medical units to Haiti’s most remote and affected areas, International Medical Corps was able to respond immediately to the emergency. In the months that followed, water and sanitation projects as well as education and training laid the foundation for Haiti to eradicate cholera. International Medical Corps continues to provide response to cholera in Haiti, most recently following Hurricane Sandy.
The World Health Organization states that one of the most common causes of death in emergencies and disasters is diarrheal illnesses such as cholera. Disaster-affected populations are very vulnerable to communicable disease – they are frequently without proper nutrition and sanitary facilities and often suffer from stress and fatigue. But diarrheal illnesses are preventable, and International Medical Corps works to prevent communicable disease in every emergency we respond to.
International Medical Corps and DayOne Response continue efforts to secure support for completing the first phase of this clean water pilot program, the manufacturing of the Waterbags. The Waterbags will provide a point-of-use clean water solution in post-disaster areas, when drinkable water can be scarce and the risk of disease increases with each day without water.
These resource development efforts include both small and large foundation as well as young social entrepreneurs. International Medical Corps is also in discussion with UN-level partners to pilot the project in up to two countries in East and Central Africa. Before we can begin, however, we need to raise the funds to manufacture the waterbags.
This is where you can help. Your donation makes a difference. A ten-dollar donation will provide Procter and Gamble Water Purifier packets for 5 families that receive the Waterbag. $54 will provide an entire family with a Waterbag and the Purifier Packets for the pilot program.
We need your help, and the people affected by large-scale disasters need your help, too. Donate today, and you can be a part of a unique program that has the potential to save thousands of lives.
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Director, Resource Development