Sahel Crisis: Clean Safe Water Helps Refugees Fleeing Mali

Purification solutions provide 5 months of clean drinking water to 25,000 people

Photo Courtesy of REUTERS/Susana Vera, www.trust.org
A girl carries water from a well in the village of Synthiane Ndiakri, Mauritania Photo Courtesy of REUTERS/Susana Vera, www.trust.org

“Many of the refugees have lived at the camp for over a year, relying on humanitarian organizations for food, shelter, and medical care,”

Karl Erdmann, AmeriCares emergency response manager. .

For families who have fled the violence and political instability in Mali, access to safe drinking water can make a lifesaving difference.

As part of our ongoing response to violence in Mali and the lingering hunger crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, a new shipment containing more than 1 million P&G Purifier of Water packets arrived to help people at the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania. The shipment contains enough supplies to provide 25,000 people with clean drinking water for 5 months.

In overcrowded refugee camps like Mbera, where clean water is dangerously scarce, the purification solutions provide a way to transform dirty, potentially deadly water into clean, drinkable water. This reduces the risk of dehydration and diseases like cholera, which spreads rapidly in the presence of contaminated water. Displaced families will also receive hands-on training on how to properly use the sachets, and about the importance of treating water to reduce the risk of infection and diarrheal disease.

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Joe Penney, www.trust.org
A mother and daughter next to their makeshift shelter at Mbera refugee camp in southern Mauritania Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Joe Penney, www.trust.org

At the peak of the crisis, more than 100,000 refugees fled Mali to neighboring Mauritania, which hosts the highest number of Malian refugees in the region. The Mbera camp is still home to approximately 75,000 people, the largest camp established since the onset of the crisis.

“Many of the refugees have lived at the camp for over a year, relying on humanitarian organizations for food, shelter, and medical care,” said Karl Erdmann, AmeriCares emergency response manager.

Erdman explained that even with humanitarian help, it’s a struggle to maintain minimum humanitarian standards at the camp. More than half of the refugees don’t have adequate shelter, and refugees receive less than 10 liters of water per day —half the amount of recommended water per person per day.

Since the onset of the crisis, AmeriCares has sent nearly 6 million water purification packets to Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, along with 3 shipments of emergency medical aid to help alleviate a critical shortage of medicines

Since 2004, AmeriCares has shipped more than 28 million units of P&G Purifier of Water products to 24 countries. These shipments contain enough products to supply 260,000 people with clean drinking water for one year.