Oxfam staff in Ecuador are working with the government to establish the effective distribution system of safe water in Portoviejo and Pedernales, two of the communities worst hit by the 7.8 earthquake that struck the northern coast of the country on April 16th.
Two tonnes of water pipes and tanks arrived in Quito last night by plane with the support of the Spanish Cooperation Agency AECID. The aid will provide safe water for 10,000 people in the worst conditions, those whose homes have been completely destroyed or in areas where public water systems have been severely damaged.
“Government officials have identified communities where the most vulnerable people are, and where Oxfam´s expertise in water and sanitation provides added value,” said Enrique Garcia, Oxfam´s Humanitarian Coordinator for Latin America.
The main issues people face now in Pedernales and other places hit hardest by the earthquake are accessing clean water in large enough quantities, and also sanitation measures to prevent water-borne diseases, especially among children and the elderly.
Oxfam plans to maintain its humanitarian assistance in Ecuador for at least the next three months. “In addition to the loss of life, injuries suffered and homes destroyed – which are all terrible in themselves – people’s livelihoods have also been severely affected. Many don’t have jobs or have been left without tools to work with. They need help to recover from this shock,” said Garcia.
Aftershocks continue to hit Ecuador’s northern coast. On Friday morning another tremor registering 6 on the Richter scale was felt, prolonging people’s fears and anxiety. Aftershocks are likely for at least another week.
Up until now, the Ecuadorian government has reported 587 people dead and more than 6,000 injured. They estimate damages in the region of $3 billion.