Geneva / Panama, 12 October 2017 - Heavy flooding across Costa Rica has displaced thousands and disrupted critical water and sanitation services, leaving more than 500,000 people without drinking water across the country.
Torrential rains that have poured down on Costa Rica since mid-September, were made worse by Tropical Storm Nate, which hit the Central American country in early October, clogging drainage systems and disrupting waste disposal systems. Costa Rica’s national water agency has been working to restore services and is providing water cisterns and bottled water to the affected populations. However, communities in remote areas remain cut off from functioning sanitation services and clean water supplies.
“_When water and sanitation are compromised, waterborne diseases and other related health risks become a serious concern_,” said Walter Cotte, Regional Director for the Americas of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “_More than 7,000 people have sought refuge in shelters and require emergency healthcare and clean water to prevent disease_.”
A state of emergency has been declared in the provinces of San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas where flooding has destroyed more than 124,000 hectares of land.
“_We have more than 2,000 volunteers responding alongside national authorities to this national emergency that has affected 90 per cent of the country_,” said Mr Glauco Quesada, President of the Costa Rica Red Cross. “_We are providing psychological support, rescue and first-aid services all over the country and coordinating with government, civil society and private sector. Also, our volunteers are bringing water, sanitation and hygiene services to thousands of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods to these floods_.”
IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for 1.5 million Swiss francs to support the Costa Rica Red Cross to provide emergency health care, cash, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, and to help reconnect families separated by the disaster. The operation aims to reach 24,000 people (4,800 families) impacted by flooding from tropical storm Nate.
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