Water treatment system for Kelantan village

Goods for distribution: IFRC staff on a humanitarian mission in Kelantan.

LIKE many villagers in Kelantan, residents of Kampung Pasir Tumboh has been struggling to obtain clean water since December last year.

The village of around 450 people was submerged in floodwaters that left waist-deep mud and debris in its wake.

The floods levelled houses to the ground, swept away bridges and damaged the village’s water sources.

“I moved into my daughter’s house after the floodwaters receded because my own house was destroyed,” said 68-year-old Hasmah, pointing towards what remained of her badly damaged house.

“Now we have to rely on water from a river for our daily washing and mineral water for cooking and drinking.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in support of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS), recently deployed several volunteers, a Rapid Disaster Response Team and staff from the IFRC Water and Sanitation (Watsan) unit to set up a water treatment system in the village.

The water treatment unit, which has the capacity to filter and store 10,000 litres of water at a time, will supply clean water to the 110 families living in the village in the months ahead.

It was funded through the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) and supported by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (Echo).

Water and Sanitation coordinator for the IFRC Jay Matta said the village’s boreholes, which were the previous water source,  were badly damaged.

“It was also amazing to see the commitment of villagers, who volunteered to come out here and help us set up this emergency water supply.”

As well as distributing jerry cans and buckets, the MRCS volunteers conducted hygiene awareness among the villagers to minimise the risk of water-borne diseases.

Volunteers trained in the use of the water treatment unit will be stationed in the village until a longer-term solution is implemented.

The scenes of devastation was also evident at Kampung Aur Duri and its neighbouring village, Kampung Dusun Nyiur.

The existing water sources are contaminated and the lack of latrines is forcing villagers to defecate and bathe next to the river.

“This is just one of the many villages facing similar issues,” said MRCS staff Muhammad Kharudi.

“Some of these villages are overlooked because they are situated far from the main road or are reachable only by boat, making relief and recovery efforts a challenge.”

In the past several weeks, the MRCS Kelantan branch has distributed 4,386 food packets and 3,500 blankets to villages in seven districts.

IFRC will continue to work closely with MRCS to ensure that a thorough assessment and survey of affected communities are made, while facilitating emergency funding via its Disaster Response Emergency Fund.

Non-food relief items will also be released from the IFRC’s regional warehouse in Klang to meet humanitarian needs in communities that were previously inaccessible because of the flooding.

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