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Kaikoura families queue for safe water and loos

Thousands of people in earthquake-affected Kaikoura still don't have safe running water and must queue for portaloos.

Friday November 25, 2016

NZ Red Cross water taps
With safe water in limited supply, this 5,000-litre Red Cross water bladder is a vital asset to the Kaikoura community. Photos: New Zealand Red Cross/Simon Makker

Although water supplies have been restored in some parts of Kaikoura, sewerage infrastructure was heavily damaged in the earthquake that shook New Zealand on 14 November.  

Tap water must still be boiled for three minutes or chlorinated before use. Many households are still relying on portaloos.  

Since the earthquake, New Zealand Red Cross has reached hundreds of people with emergency aid, food, water, welfare checks and a listening ear.  

In Kaikoura, safe water and toilets are the priority now.  

Red Cross water and sanitation engineer Yee Chen has been working with the community and local agencies to minimise the threat of disease outbreaks in the face of limitations to the region's water and sewerage networks.

"No water should go down the drains, as the underground pipes#are badly damaged," she explains. "We recommend saving your water from doing the dishes, showering and bathing,#and tipping it into the garden." 

Yee has overseen the distribution of pallets of chlorine to Kaikoura's surrounding rural properties to ensure dam water is fit for use, and helped set up hand washing and sanitation stations at Kaikoura Primary School.   

As Secretary-General Tony Paine explains, water-borne diseases are a major concern after disasters.  

"People in Kaikoura are living in challenging circumstances and it's very easy for disease to spread in these conditions. Lessons learnt after our work in disasters overseas and closer to home in Havelock North have shown us the importance of accessing clean water and knowing how to make a small amount go a really long way."   

How to help:
New Zealand Red Cross has an earthquake appeal. Donate here.
(Donations from Australia are not tax deductible.)