A week of intensive and persistent rainfall in the Solomon Islands in early February affected up to 7,000 people and caused the deaths of ten, according to government reports. Some people are reported as missing, feared dead.
Homes, food gardens and water supplies were badly damaged in northwest Guadalcanal, from Tamboko (20 kilometres west of Honiara) to Maravovo, while key bridges were damaged and supplies had to be shipped to the worst-affected areas.
Clean water for flooded villages
To provide desperately needed clean water to communities, an Australian Red Cross disaster response team set up its water treatment unit in Aruligo, drawing water from a nearby source to purify.
With the support of local Red Cross, the unit provided clean water to up to 4,000 people in several villages from Tamboko to Kohimarama river. Ten-litre jerry cans were delivered to all villages in the catchment and they received water either from the module itself, or by a truck engaged to distribute the purified water.
Red Cross is working with the Rural Water Supply to identify strategies for restoring water supplies in the affected communities, including installing up to 20 rainwater tanks, as well as restoring wells.
Local Red Cross action
Most affected families received support from Solomon Islands Red Cross quickly, despite logistical constraints and severe weather conditions that hindered response throughout the week of the floods.
Non-food items (including tarpaulins, family kits, water cans and clothes) were distributed to 150 of the most vulnerable affected families and shelter kits and livelihood tools will be delivered to selected families.
Volunteers distributed hygiene packs and shared information on health and hygiene, to slow or prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. This successful public health response was achieved through coordination with the Ministry of Health and Oxfam.
Australian Red Cross has a long term project with Solomon Islands Red Cross, providing community health education in remote areas of Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces since 2005. With skilled staff and volunteers, Solomon Islands Red Cross was able to respond quickly in flood affected communities with safe water and sanitation messages.
Read more about our development programs in the Solomon Islands.