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A British Red Cross team specialised in preventing the outbreak of disease is heading to Namibia where the worst floods in decades have forced thousands from their homes.
Flooding on the Zambezi has already affected more than half-a-million people in Namibia and Angola, with the thousands forced out of their homes and now living in camps particularly vulnerable to disease.
To help combat the threat, the five-member British Red Cross Mass Sanitation Module (MSM) is equipped to deal with the sanitation needs of up to 20,000 people, and also works to prevent sanitation related diseases such as diarrhoea.
British Red Cross Systems Support specialist Cathy Stephen, 27, from London, will join the team, along with Irish Red Cross Sanitation Engineer Wardell Eastwood, 38, Team Leader Jorge Durand,30, of the Spanish Red Cross, and Zimbabwean Hygiene Promotion Specialist Florence Matonhodze, 44, a delegate from the International Federation of the Red Cross.
Also flying out to assist the team will be British Red Cross logistics expert, John Cunningham, 57, from Bristol.
“These are the worst floods Namibia has seen for 40 years; more than half-a-million people have been affected and, six weeks after the waters first rose, 54,000 people remain unable to return to their homes,” said Fiona Davidson, Disaster Manager with the British Red Cross.
“Having survived the initial floods, with so many people living in camps without access to proper sanitation there is a very real threat of disease breaking out.
“The British Red Cross team will be working alongside the Namibian Red Cross to provide truly life-saving support.”
After flying in to the capital Windhoek, the team will deploy to Caprivi in the very Northeast of the country, 1,200 kilometres away, leaving logistics expert John Cunningham in the capital to establish a supply chain.
With Cunningham ensuring a flow of necessary aid items, the team will focus on establishing sanitation and promoting hygiene education to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease.
“The team will be working in five camps which are currently home to some 12,000 people. At the moment they are only accessible by boat and have been identified as areas where people are most at risk,” added Davidson.
“More rain and further floods are forecast for next week, and it will be months before waters subside enough for people to start returning home. It is essential that they remain healthy so that when they do go home they are able to begin rebuilding their lives.”
The British Red Cross responds to emergencies in the UK and around the world.
To support its work helping vulnerable people, like those in Namibia affected by the southern African floods, you can donate to the British Red Cross Disaster Fund by visiting www.redcross.org.uk/disasterfund
For interviews and images contact Mark South on 0207 877 7042
British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.