Access to safe, equitable drinking water key to survival during emergency: UNICEF
Participants at the workshop at NEDFi House in Guwahati

GUWAHATI: Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) and UNICEF are collaborating to pre-position 20 emergency water treatment units on a pilot basis in 10 flood-prone districts to support the districts in ensuring that flood-affected people have access to safe drinking water.

In this connection, a day-long training on ‘Emergency Water Treatment’ was organised, for DDMA and PHED officials, jointly by ASDMA, PHED, UNICEF and Caritas India at NEDFI House here.

During the training, the participants were skilled in tools and processes for emergency water treatment including the use of various available water treatment units designed for emergencies.

“Access to safe and equitable drinking water is critical to survival during any emergency. Assam has introduced many innovations under the leadership of ASDMA and PHED to improve access to affected populations, and the learning has been immense,” Dr Madhulika Jonathan, chief, field office, Assam and Northeastern states, UNICEF India, said in her opening remarks.

“UNICEF’s recent experience of working with ASDMA and partners to introduce boat-mounted water treatment units during the Cachar floods in 2022 highlights the need to bring agility and flexibility in the use of water treatment units to reach the last mile. This training is an opportunity to explore effective ways of ensuring safe and equitable drinking water to those most in need,” Jonathan said.

In his keynote address, ASDMA chief executive officer G.D Tripathi called upon stakeholders and participants to find out ways of introducing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sustainability “where resilience is a non-negotiable feature by design”.

He highlighted the importance of implementing the DRR (disaster risk reduction) roadmap in true spirit in the WASH sector as dedicated funding would be made available from the current financial year.

Tripathi advocated for implementing at-scale solutions for improving access to safe and equitable water for people affected by disasters.

It may be mentioned that ASDMA and UNICEF have also collaborated in various other fields, with the two entities also jointly developing a real-time Digital Flood Reporting and Information Management System (FRIMS) which was launched in 2021.

FRIMS has replaced the manual system with the web cum mobile application-based technology-driven system, which helps in the efficient delivery of relief, ex-gratia, rehabilitation grants to the flood-affected people besides tracking damage to agricultural crops, loss of livestock, infrastructure damage etc. and providing financial assistance for restoration.

Also Read | Abandoned girl child from Assam adopted by Spanish professor

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