02 October 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Pleads for Government Help to Improve Sanitation in Evacuation Centers

Quezon City. The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition has appealed for increased government intervention to alleviate the worsening hygiene and sanitation in evacuation centers
for the survivors of tropical storm “Ondoy.”

The latest update today from the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) shows that there are 83,493 families, comprising of 419,333 persons, that are staying in 526 evacuation centers.

Out of the 526 evacuation centers, 305 are in Region IV-A, 174 in Metro Manila, 45 in Region III and 1 each in Region XII and in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

“The extremely congested educational and sports facilities providing refuge to thousands of flood survivors are becoming breeding grounds for post-storm diseases due to garbage and inadequate amenities,” said Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

“We appeal to all local officials to designate enough number of government personnel who will look after the health and hygiene needs of the evacuees,” De Veyra, a retired nurse, said.

“With respect to waste generated at the evacuation centers, we
recommend that the local authorities use the occasion to train and mobilize the evacuees on proper segregation of discards,” she stated.

“It will really help if the evacuees themselves can form committees to oversee their sanitation and other needs in a systematic and healthy way,” De Veyra said.

“This is an opportune time for the barangay, municipal, city and provincial waste management boards to show leadership on the eco-friendly way of dealing with disaster debris and in handling
garbage at the evacuation centers,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for government action after hearing complaints from the evacuees about the lack of toilets and filthy surroundings in evacuation centers due to improperly managed discards.

In most evacuation centers, flood survivors have only one to two toilets to share and have to endure the stench of decaying mixed garbage.

The group echoed an earlier warning by the Department of Health (DOH) that the cramped and unhygienic conditions in evacuation centers can lead to the spread of disease-causing bacteria.

The DOH has identified the following diseases as commonly linked with floods: respiratory infections, influenza, measles, acute diarrhea, dermatitis, dengue and leptospirosis, a disease caused by coming into contact with bacteria in animal urine).

“The ecological management of discards is one way of preventing the outbreak of diseases in evacuation centers, and we hope that the authorities can allocate the necessary resources to help evacuees properly deal with their discards,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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