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Red Cross delivers water to 80,000 people per day in Aceh

Friday February 4, 2005

Some 80,000 people are receiving clean water for cooking and drinking as well as cleaning and bathing from the Red Cross in tsunami-devastated Aceh Province.

'In Aceh over five million litres of fresh clean water have been distributed to thousands of families as well as tens of thousands of homeless people,' says Australian Thanh Le, whose team of Red Cross water engineers from Spain, Germany, France and Sweden have worked in the disaster area for weeks.

In Aceh the Red Cross was the first organisation to provide potentially life saving clean drinking water along the west and east coast, the areas hit hardest by the huge walls of water that devastated many coastal areas on December 26 2004.

'For over one month the Red Cross has been at the forefront in providing water and sanitation services to the affected population in Aceh,' Thanh added.

In Meulaboh along the west coast for example, teams of water engineers from Spanish Red Cross have delivered on average 246,000 litres of water every day. And Thanh explains, it is a wonderful sight to see fresh water getting to the people of this broken town, 'In Meulaboh the Red Cross has a fleet of fifteen mass water trucks each capable of carrying 15,000 litres of water.'

'And each day starting at first light the trucks go out and literally deliver clean water door to door as well as to tens of thousands of people in camps whose houses were destroyed by the tsunami,' says Thanh. 'Between them these water trucks can expect to make 50 to 60 deliveries a day.'

Meanwhile at the hospital in Meulaboh, sterile water - vital to prevent the spread of infection - for use in surgery and other operations is delivered on a daily basis to a team from Japanese Red Cross whose surgeons and nurses work alongside Indonesian doctors and nurses.

And on the east coast of Aceh in Sigli and Samalanga, another team of Red Cross water engineers from France distribute 290,000 litres of clean water to 20,000 displaced people per day.

The Red Cross delivers clean water in many of the tsunami-affected areas of Aceh. But this is only one part of the Red Cross relief operation underway in Aceh and Sri Lanka. 'Australian Red Cross has so far spent $23.5 million on provision of emergency relief as part of the overall Red Cross response, helping deliver safe water, hundreds of thousands of hygiene kits, 300,000 blankets, family kits, tarpaulins for shelter and much more,' Thanh Le concluded.