Red Crescent continues recovery efforts in Kelantan

Publié: 1 février 2015 7:42 CET

By Ika Koeck, IFRC

Like many of the villages in Kelantan, Kampung Pasir Tumboh has been struggling to obtain clean water since mid-December 2014. As one of the areas affected by the floods that devastated three states in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, this village of around 450 people was submerged under floodwater that left waist-deep mud and debris in its wake. The floods, which at their peak displaced 230,000 people and killed at least 18, levelled houses to the ground, swept away bridges and damaged the village’s water sources.

“I moved into my daughter’s house after the floodwaters receded because my own home was destroyed, as you can see,” says 68-year-old Hasmah, pointing towards what remained of her badly damaged house. “Now we have to rely on water from a river for our daily washing and bottles of mineral water for cooking and drinking.”

Following the floods, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in support of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS), recently deployed several volunteers, a Rapid Disaster Response Team and staff from the IFRC Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) unit to set up a water treatment system in the village. The water treatment unit, which has the capacity to filter and store 10,000 litres of water at a time, will supply clean water to the 110 families living in the village in the months ahead. This intervention was funded through the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) and supported by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).

Jay Matta, Water and Sanitation coordinator for the IFRC, believes that the water treatment unit is crucial for the village. “It was good that the MRCS and WATSAN team mobilized here, as the village’s boreholes, which were the previous water source,  were badly damaged,” he says. “It was also amazing to see the commitment of villagers, who volunteered to come out here and help us set up this emergency water supply. Our work here wouldn’t have been possible without their support.”

As well as distributing jerry cans and buckets, the MRCS volunteers are conducting hygiene promotion activities to ensure safe hygiene practices among the villagers and to minimize the risk of water-borne diseases. Volunteers trained in the use of the water treatment unit will be stationed in the village until a longer-term solution is implemented.

Around 100 kilometres north of the village, the scenes of devastation are nearly identical to that in  Kampung Pasir Tumboh. As the Malaysian Red Crescent relief truck rolls into Kampung Aur Duri and its neighbouring village, Kampung Dusun Nyiur with supplies, it becomes apparent that the scale of the disaster is greater than anyone imagined. The existing water sources are contaminated and the lack of latrines is forcing villagers to defecate and bathe next to the river. With some of the villagers already showing the first signs of diarrhoea and fever, it is critical that further intervention is made quickly to prevent the onset of a full-scale epidemic.

“This is just one of the many villages facing similar issues,” says MRCS staff, Muhammad Kharudi. “Some of these villages are overlooked because they are situated far from the main road, or aren’t on the map. We have to act quickly to meet their needs.” In some areas, the water rose as high as 30 metres, causing extensive damage that would require months of cleaning and rebuilding, while other remote villages are reachable only by boat, making relief and recovery efforts a challenge.

In the past several weeks, the MRCS Kelantan branch has distributed 4,386 food packets and 3,500 blankets to villages in seven districts. As the recovery phase continues, the IFRC will continue to work closely with the MRCS to ensure that a thorough assessment and survey of affected communities are made, while facilitating emergency funding via its Disaster Response Emergency Fund. Non-food relief items will also be released from the IFRC’s regional warehouse in Klang to meet humanitarian needs in communities that were previously inaccessible due to the flooding.