Delivering clean water to Ivorian refugees in Liberia


May 3, 2011

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    REUTERS/Benoist Matsha-Carpentier/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC)  </span>
    Children arrive at a transit camp for refugees who fled the post-election violence in Ivory Coast. More than 135,000 Ivorians, including thousands of women and children, are now living in makeshift camps. Photo: REUTERS/Benoist Matsha-Carpentier/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC)

Even though the political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) ended almost a month ago, a humanitarian catastrophe remains. More than a million Ivoriens fled their homes to escape fierce fighting during the crisis, including at least 135,000 people that escaped into neighboring Liberia.

But, even though the crisis seems over, refugees aren't going home. Schools remain closed in many parts of Côte d'Ivoire. Basic services such as water supply and garbage collection aren't functioning. And, perhaps most of all, the threat of instability and violence are keeping them from going back to their country. Meanwhile, they're stuck in makeshift refugee camps with poor sanitation and - often - an appalling lack of clean water.

That's why Mercy Corps is focusing on providing water and sanitation services in eastern Liberia's Nimba and Grand Gedeh county, two of the areas most affected by the gigantic influx of refugees. This emergency project, on which we're partnering with UNICEF, will focus especially on women and children.

Over a three-month period, we will:

  • Dig or upgrade 17 wells
  • Construct at least 150 latrines, and
  • Build 25 hand-washing stations.

Alongside our partners, we'll also teach hygiene and sanitation awareness to refugees, helping them maintain cleanliness in their camps and host communities, reducing the chance of quick-spreading infectious disease.

Our emergency team, led by senior water and sanitation advisor Mugur Dumitrache, has been on the ground in eastern Liberia helping refugees for the last several weeks. Today, we're committed to helping bring lifesaving water and sanitation to thousands Ivorian families that are unsure of when they'll be able to go back home.