Watsan For Emergency Situations

WATSAN, Water and Sanitation, is in demand

Learning how to take water from a possible natural source such a lake, making it drinkable and distribute it in a pipe network.
Learning how to take water from a possible natural source such a lake, making it drinkable and distribute it in a pipe network.

There has been one growing tendency in the last decades and this is the steady increase of refugees and internally displaced people because of international and national conflicts and unrest.

The ICRC (International Comitte of the Red Cross) and the Centre d’Hydrogeologie de Neuchatel, CHYN, (Université de Neuchatel, Switzerland), organized an intense 8 days of training on the subject (24-31 August 2013).

I participated as a geologist among other colleagues from the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies IFRC, NGOs, architects and professional: in total, we were a group of 20 people from all over the world.

Watsan specialist’s demand is growing and has been steadily increasing in the last years. Conflicts such as the one in Syria now with over 2 millions refugees are in fact a sad reality of the time we leave in. When somebody has to flee from home, the first thing you need is water (you can live for 3 weeks without food but no more than 3 days without water) and as soon as you settle down in a camp, be it an organized one (planned in advance or managed by the UNHCR, ICRC, OXFAM or else), the SECOND most important thing is to dipsose of the human excreta to prevent diseases.

And this is what we learned including topics in bacteriology and the main water and air-born disease such as malaria, dengue fever, worms and parasites, cholera (which is so easy to cure and nobody should die from it if water is available and the cure is fast!).

There was a lot to do with hydrogeology, too. We carried out a short-term pumping test in a nearby borehole and I could practice again the geoelectrical survey with a Schlumberger alignment of the electrodes.

A good, intense week, which didn’t make us Watsan experts at once (for this, as everything you need years of practice) but which contributed to raise awareness to topics and notions we were all familiar (we all had previous experiences in relief or third world countries activities)  with but never had the time perhaps to further investigate.

More pictures can seen here

Watsan week pictures, ICRC CHYN, Neuchatel, Switzerland, August 2013
Watsan week pictures, ICRC CHYN, Neuchatel, Switzerland, August 2013

 

 

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Author: sandro

Geologo, Idrogeologo.

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