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My job as a water and sanitation emergency response delegate is to work together with Solomon Islands Red Cross Society staff and volunteers to treat and deliver water to evacuation centres in Honiara and most of the affected communities in Guadalcanal.
At the height of the operation, 20 trained volunteers formed part of the water and sanitation team, that operated four NOMAD water treatment units and six trucks to treat and distribute water to those in need. To date we have treated and delivered more than two million litres of water to affected communities.
An additional 30 trained volunteers formed part of the hygiene promotion team, who were able deliver health messages in coordination with national and local authorities, in response to an increase in diarrhoea cases that followed the floods.
My tasks are varied. I work together with the volunteers to ensure they have what they need to carry on their work. I spent a lot of time in water and hygiene sanitation (WASH) cluster meetings coordinating with the Solomon Islands government and other partners. I actually enjoy testing the water we treat to make sure it meets appropriate quality standards, making chlorine solution and tinkering with the NOMADs when they do not work properly.
We are in the final weeks of the response, as the evacuees are vacating the centres and water systems in Guadalcanal are returning to pre-flooding conditions. Diarrhoeal cases are reducing. Life at Solomon Islands Red Cross is returning back to normal, kind of.
Looking back, my favourite moments of the short mission include observing Solomon Islands Red Cross staff meet with evacuees and their representatives in the centres. They discussed sensitive issues, such as the condition of the pit latrines and what was required to bring them up to an acceptable standard.
It was my favourite moment, because of the way the Red Cross guys were communicating with the beneficiaries. The discussions were carried out in such a dignified and respectful way. It was really humbling.
Our aid worker programme is partly supported by funding from New Zealand Aid Programme through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.