Hygiene kits for Koyere Albertine
Rain pierced the skies in Bangui in June 2022, falling on the capital of the Central African Republic. For two months, the torrential rains continued to fall, finally easing in September.
In the city's poorest low-lying districts, the water is said to have risen up to 0.5 metres, damaging infrastructure such as wells and latrines, schools, places of worship, community centres and bridges. The human toll was also catastrophic: 447,315 injured, 23 missing and 10 dead, forcing the displacement of nearly 4,000 families -- or 20,000 people -- in the city's schools and churches. Koyere Albertine's family was one of them.
"My house collapsed during the last flood", she explains. "They haven't rebuilt my house yet. I'm asking God to rebuild my house for me."
The 80-year-old grandmother and farmer, the lifeforce of her young family, no longer has a roof under which to shelter the 17 grandchildren entrusted to her by her two children, who died in the armed conflicts that ravaged the country.
In response to the floods, the Central African Republic's Ministry of Social Action and Humanitarian Affairs has joined forces with five humanitarian organisations in Bangui, including Oxfam Quebec, to ensure the distribution of hygiene kits, as well as the rehabilitation of wells and latrines, critical to water, hygiene and sanitation in the neighbourhood where Koyere Albertine and her grandchildren live.
This support is critical: in humanitarian emergencies, the lack of drinking water or adequate sanitation and hygiene puts children at risk, particularly those already suffering from malnutrition -- like many children in the Central African Republic, where half the population is food insecure -- making them even more vulnerable to water-borne diseases.
"I'm really pleased with this support," she explains. "I'm happy to receive this canister, which will enable me to have water to drink. I also received soaps, a bucket with a lid, reusable sanitary towels for my little girls and an empty bag that will provide for my family's hygiene needs."
In partnership with Global Affairs Canada and with the support of the Humanitarian Coalition, Oxfam Quebec has distributed 650 hygiene kits, rehabilitated 40 wells and rebuilt 150 latrines, as well as organising public health and hygiene awareness activities.
Dignity and sanitation go hand in hand -- and these measures will enable families in Bangui, like Koyere Albertine's, to maintain good health and protect their children.