The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with Bangladeshi authorities to urgently investigate the existence of high levels of E.coli in water drawn from wells in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with Bangladeshi authorities to urgently investigate the existence of high levels of E.coli in water drawn from wells in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
The World Health Organisation has released the latest figures suggesting that 62% of the water available to refugee households is contaminated.
The contamination is leading to a rise in cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), including 10 related deaths.
A total of 36,096 AWD cases were reported between August 25 and November 11, 2017, 42% of which were children under the age of five.
UNICEF are investigating contaminated water sources to ensure better construction practices for tube wells, so that they have an appropriate ceiling and meet international standards.
Currently, many camp wells have been dug too shallowly, less than 40 metres deep and have no safeguards to prevent bacterial contamination.
They are also poorly sited and highly congested.
The International Organisation for Migration has said that international attention focuses on the main Kutupalong and Balukhali settlements, which are hosting the majority of the estimated 834,000 refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar.
Thousands, however, have settled in small villages in the district’s southern area and risk being excluded from humanitarian aid programmes.
The IMO says that 22,067 refugees live in Shamlapur, with 16 people sharing one toilet that are dangerously-constructed or close to being full.
In Leda, 22,130 people have one latrine per 47 people, and 29,915 in Unchiprang share one between 57 people.
These figures are well below the humanitarian `Sphere’ standard of one toilet per 20 people.
Many are also contaminated with E.coli or too shallow to provide enough clean water for use.
As the dry season approaches in Bangladesh, aid agencies are urgently trying to find solutions to the lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene services.
IMO emergency managers have also urged vital infrastructure development on the three sites, including waste management, roads and lighting.
UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac said: “We are seeing an upward trend in infection rates.
“Whilst the exact cause of increased cases of AWD remains uncertain, it may be linked to contaminated food or water.
“Contamination may be being caused through poor hygiene practices, such as the use of dirty containers [and] bad hygiene habits of the population in water handling.
“We are stepping up measures to distribute water purification tablets to provide for water treatment at the household level as well as promoting good hygiene practices.”