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Across Eastern DRC, these yellow cans are the symbol of a vital good that is akin to a luxury for millions of Congolese: drinkable water. On any given day from Ituri to Bukama, in Haut-Katanga Province, young girls and boys can be seen carrying these cans -- which weigh 20 kilos when full -- back home for various household needs. It is estimated that only 16 per cent of people living in the capital, Kinshasa, have access to clean water. In Bukama, 2,000 km southeast of Kinshasa, deep in the country, many have never seen a single drop of water from a tap. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto
In Bukama, it is common to see such holes in the ground. They are wells, the only source of water. This water, brown in color, is used for everything: cooking, washing clothes and dishes, taking showers, and so on. Cholera, a water-borne disease, has been able to flourish in recent years due to the lack of clean water. Since 2012, the four southeastern provinces, which used to make up Katanga, have registered over 40,000 cholera cases. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto
When families are not drilling their own wells, they use the affluents, rivers and streams from the Congo river to meet their water needs. The mythic Congo river, which runs the entire length of the country, is one of the main vectors of the disease. In Bukama, the Lualaba's River is a multi-purpose river. Since the beginning of the year, the Bukama area has registered over 250 cases of cholera. Heavy rains that have been pouring on the area will likely make things worse. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto
A bed at a cholera treatment center in Lubumbashi. In 2015, 81 people died of cholera in Haut-Katanga, Haut-Lomami, Lualaba and Tanganyika provinces -- formerly known as Katanga. UN agencies, NGOs and the Government have joined forces to tackle this issue but much more needs to be done as the disease has become endemic and both short-term and long-term investments are required to stem the disease. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto.
Donatien Mushizi works for the Red Cross, one of hundreds of health professional whose job is to prevent the spread of cholera. Equipped with a variety of communication tools and techniques, fluent in a number of the local languages, they go door-to-door to inform and sensitize communities. However, influential religious leaders, deeply-entrenched local beliefs and widespread illiteracy, as well as generalized poverty all contribute in slowing sensitization efforts on the disease. Photo: OCHA DRC/J-L. Mbalivoto.
When teams are not going door-to-door, they are hitting public places like markets. UN agencies such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization and numerous national and international NGOs have been leading efforts against the disease. Water and health experts estimate that US$ 600,000 is urgently needed for the response. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto.
Water pumps are an effective solution and are therefore much needed in the four southeastern provinces. But they are costly and the maintenance of these pumps lies with the communities, meaning that many of these pumps only last a few months. Some families have to walk for many hours to reach the nearest pump. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto.
The National Service for Rural Hydraulics, a Government programme, has been doing its best to provide clean water to millions of people living in far-flung places. The national water company, Regideso, has been struggling for decades to provide water, even in urban centers such as Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma. In many areas, its equipment dates back to the colonial era. According to some estimates, the national water company would need millions of dollars to be fully operational. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto.
The family living in this house is one of the luckier ones. The masked man, carrying some 10 kilos of anti-cholera liquid, will spray walls, rooms and kitchen areas, to prevent the cholera germ from spreading. Unfortunately, thousands of families will not see a single drop of this life-saving spray because there aren't enough well-trained teams to cover the entire country. After the spraying is done, families are still required to respect basic hygiene principles such as washing food, and hands on a regular basis to prevent the spead of the disease. But again, clean water is often lacking. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto.
The Pooled-Fund, a Kinshasa-based funding mechanism created in 2006, has funded dozens of water, health and sanitation projects using money from donors including the European Union, the UK, the US, Sweden and many others. While humanitarian actors have been focusing on life-saving efforts, winning the battle against cholera will require funding and a coherent and hollistic approach, hand-in-hand with the Government and development actors. The Congolese government has adopted a three-year national plan against cholera, though its implementation remains uncertain due to lack of sufficient funding. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto.
Fighting cholera is the southeastern provinces of DRC
The island of Koro in the Lomaiviti Group bore the brunt of Cyclone Winston when it arrived in Fiji on 20 February 2016. Houses, especially along the coast, were buffeted by both Category 5 cyclonic wind and tsunami-like storm surge. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA Pacific)
Almost 1000 houses on the Fijian Island of Koro were destroyed when Cat 5 Cyclone Winston crashed into the coast bringing a massive storm surge. Locals describe four tsunami-like waves flooding their houses, sending them scrambling up the nearby escarpment to safety. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA Pacific)
Humanitarian Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, visited Koro with the Fijian Ambassador for Climate Change and Oceans, Amena Yauvoli who grew up on the island and was shocked by the devastation he saw. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA Pacific)
The Humanitarian Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani and the Head of UNOCHA Pacific, Sune Gudnitz attended a community meeting in Koro where local leaders expressed their uregnt need for shelter and their desire to see communities relocated to higher ground, reducing future risk from storm surge. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA)
Savenca Taganekece picks his way through the rubbled that was once his village on Koro in Fiji’s Lomaiviti Group of islands. A massive debris-clearance operation will be required here after the the Cyclone and a tsunami-like storm surge leveled whole villages. (Credit: Danielle Parry, OCHA)
In Nasou Village on Koro Island even concrete and brick buildings collapsed under the force of Category 5 Cyclone Winston. Even high on the top of this escarpment locals reported being hit with salt water whipped up into the air by the cyclone. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA)
Humanitarian Coordinator Osnat Lubrani met with locals on the island of Koro to hear about their needs as part of the emergency response. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA)
Vilisa Naivalubasaga, left, preparing donated food with a group of other women whose families have been left homeless by the cyclone on Koro. Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA
The most severe impacts from Cyclone Winston on Koro Island can be seen along the waterline. Buildings here were impacted not only by intense Category 5 winds but also by tsunami-like storm surge. (Credit: Danielle Parry/ OCHA Pacific)
With the help of Fijian and Australian militaries, a huge humanitarian operation has swung into action to meet the urgent needs of people living on Koro. There are sanitation and health concerns for people living on Koro with with typhoid fever and diarrheal diseases now a significant risk due to the lack of clean running water. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA Pacific)
The Humanitarian Coordinator Osnat Lubrani was shocked at the level of cyclone damage on the island of Koro but she was also pleased to see the Fijian spirit was still strong despite the devastation. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA Pacific)
The catastrophic impacts of Cat 5 Cyclone Winston are clearly visible from the air. 100 per cent of buildings on the island have suffered damage as a result of the cyclone and the storm surge that followed. With almost 1000 homes thought to be destroyed, the provision of shelter is a key need on Koro and is being addressed by humanitarian partners as a priority. (Credit: Danielle Parry/OCHA Pacific)
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Gao, Mali - During his mission in Mali from 18 to 22 January 2016, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, witnessed progress made and persisting challenges regarding security and access to basic services for communities affected by the crisis.
He sat down with local education authorities and local NGOs partners at a UNICEF-supported remedial school in Gao city. ”Three main obstacles hamper the access of children to education in the Gao region : poverty, the lack of school canteens, and the prevailing insecurity,” education partners told Toby Lanzer.
Photo: OCHA/A. Desgroseilliers
Gao, Mali - The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, visited a UNICEF-supported remedial classroom where out-of-school children are being helped to reintegrate the national curriculum. "I love my school," said little Fanta to Toby Lanzer.
Photo: OCHA/A. Desgroseilliers
Gao, Mali - The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, told Gao journalists that “important progress has been made, schools have reopened and access to safe water and essential health care has improved. However, the continued redeployment of State authorities is essential if we are to consolidate existing gains and strengthen the much needed recovery and resilience work with the support of humanitarian and development partners.” Photo: OCHA/A. Desgroseilliers
Gao, Mali - The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer met with women associations to hear their priorities and concerns. "Without justice, the hate in my heart will not go away and sustainable peace will not take hold," said a woman who had suffered from abuse.
Gao, Mali - The humanitarian response plan for Mali - partnering UN agencies and NGOs - calls for US$ 354 million this year and includes a crucial component aimed at building the resilience capacity of communities. Toby Lanzer, met Gao community leaders who told him that "building roads and irrigation systems were most needed to build stability and a brighter future."
Gao, Mali - The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, visited a malnutrition centre in Gao run by Action Contre la Faim.
Photo: OCHA/A. Desgroseilliers.
Kidal, Mali - Women and youth groups in Kidal told the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, that access to water, education and employment are key needs in the region. "Schools should be kept out of politics. More support is needed to ensure that our kids can learn safely,” a Kidal woman told Toby Lanzer.
Kidal, Mali - The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, spoke with boys enrolled in a recently reopened school. He told them that “they must make sure that girls get to attend and finish too”.
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The El Niño rains that started falling in October 2015 in Burundi damaged the Nyaruhongoka road, in Rumonge province. In this picture, a woman weeds the road after the County Governor contracted villagers to clean up and improve visibility. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
Men and women in Nyaruhongoka and Nyamusenyi areas, in Rumonge Province, Burundi, have been contracted by the Country Government to clear boulders and stones from a blocked road. At the end of the day, they are provided with food for their efforts. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
The reconstruction of the destroyed part of the Nyaruhongoka road in Rumonge Province is underway. Big boulders, stones and mud slid into the road following heavy El Niño-related rains in November and December 2015 in the area. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
More than 500 hundred houses were destroyed in Rumonge Province by the rains. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
A woman and her daughter in Nyaruhongoka, Rumonge Province, in Burundi, ponder their next move following the destruction of their farm land from heavy El Niño-related rains in October 2015. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
Twenty-four year old Innocent Nsambimana explains how flood waters came dashing and destroyed several homes in Nyaruhongoka, Rumonge Province, in Burundi, in October 2015. He feels lucky to have survived the ordeal. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
697 people were displaced following heavy rains in Nkuba and Gitaza hills, in Rumonge Province, Burundi. The Burundi Red Cross Society with support from IOM, UNFPA and WFP among other partners, erected tents for the displaced and distributed food and other basic items. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
Thirty-two year old Laurent Hatungimana sits outside his tent where he is now living with his wife and five children. He was one of the 697 people affected by landslides in Rumonge Province in October. He says life is difficult in the settlement but hopes that he will soon go back home. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
Displaced children play at the Gataza IDP settlement following the heavy October rains. Most of the schools were destroyed as well as homes. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
Women hold a meeting at the Gitaza IDP settlement where they now live following the rains that destroyed their homes in Nyaruhongoka and Nyamusenyi areas, in Rumonge Province, Burundi. The women received basic hygiene and sanitation items from UNFPA. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.
Young men read an advertisement of the Burundi Humanitarian Hotline in Nkuba hills, in Rumonge Province which is prone to landslides. Following the November heavy rains, four people made calls to the hotline and many people were assisted to evacuate to safer grounds in Gitaza area. Photo: OCHA/R. Maingi.