The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is distributing more than 300,000 hygiene and sanitation items to flood-affected families in Thailand in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the country.
“Hygiene and sanitation are always a major concern in any flooding situation,”
said Tomoo Hozumi, the UNICEF Representative for Thailand.
“Although no outbreaks have been reported so far, contaminated flood waters can result in water-borne diseases. The risk of these diseases can be reduced through safe sanitation and improved hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing.”
Almost three million people have been affected by this year’s unusually severe monsoon season, which has resulted in Thailand’s worst flooding in 50 years. Vast swathes of the country’s 29 provinces, including the capital, Bangkok, have been inundated and 533 people have been killed.
Mr. Hozumi said he was concerned with the number of children casualties, 77 in total, most of them young boys, due to drowning.
“Children stranded in houses surrounded by water have no space to play, so they end up playing in the water,”
Mr. Hozumi said.
“Since many Thai children do not know how to swim, there is great risk involved.”
According to a news release issued by the agency, to prevent child casualties, UNICEF is supporting the establishment of ‘child friendly spaces’ at 40 large evacuation centres to provide safe areas for recreation and support activities for children.
Mr. Hozumi said UNICEF is also concerned with getting children to resume their education. “Getting children back into school and back to a normal routine as soon as possible will help speed their recovery from this disaster,” he said. “UNICEF wants to do all it can to ensure this.”
In some areas where floodwaters are receding, the agency will be distributing ‘school-in-a-box’ kits to some 1,000 schools that have been severely damaged by the floods. Each kit contains teaching materials for up to 80 students and can be used in temporary locations while their schools are being repaired.
In addition to these activities, UNICEF is distributing thousands of pamphlets with practical and simple information for families to protect the health and well-being of their children as part of its emergency relief efforts.
Earlier this week, UNICEF launched a direct mail appeal to its donors in Thailand for funding to support flood response and recovery activities. At the moment, the agency has a budget of $1.2 million for post-flood assistance for health, education, child protection and sanitation relief.
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Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?
– Chinese overseas investment dropped off in 2020
– Government remains committed to the wide-ranging infrastructure programme
– Sustainability, health and digital to be the new cornerstones of the initiative
Following a year of coronavirus-related disruptions, China appears to be placing a greater focus on sustainable, digital and health-related projects in its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
As OBG outlined in April last year, the onset of Covid-19 prompted questions about the future direction of the BRI.
Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious international initiative that aims to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes through large-scale infrastructure development.
By the start of 2020 some 2951 BRI-linked projects – valued at a total of $3.9trn – were planned or under way across the world.
However, as borders closed and lockdowns were imposed, progress stalled on a number of major BRI infrastructure developments.
In June China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 30-40% of BRI projects had been affected by the virus, while a further 20% had been “seriously affected”. Restrictions on the flow of Chinese workers and construction supplies were cited as factors behind project suspensions or slowdowns in Pakistan, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other countries.
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