Report on the delivery and distribution of
survival boxes provided by Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge, UK,
following floods in the Comoros Islands in April 2012
April 2012 was marked by heavy rains that affected the Comoros
Islands. These rains were causing a disastrous situation that
caused the loss of two lives, destruction of communication
channels and agricultural areas. The water and sanitation sector
was the most affected because the town of Moroni, the capital,
was completely deprived of water and Vouvouni town was
Evaluation reports have identified areas most affected where
other people were affected most particularly in terms of access
to water, hygiene and sanitation.
As part of the response to this emergency, UNICEF joined the
Comorian Government's efforts to deal with this situation and the
whole team was mobilized to contribute to the response to this
situation of emergency.
A total of 18 locations across the country including Greater Moroni
were affected and are listed among the affected communities affected
by severe weather this month of April 2012. In total more than 80
000 inhabitants were directly affected by this disaster and are
exposed to serious difficulties in relation to access to water and
As part of its emergency response and compared with the mobilization
phase resources to assist affected populations, UNICEF has received
support from the Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge from England in
particular providing boxes of survival for affected populations.
It should be noted that the contribution of these survival boxes
provided by the Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge is in keeping with
its humanitarian aid project, and the "WorldWaterWorks" is part of a
coordinated and concerted response by the various partners involved
in the response to the emergency.
II Distribution of supplies
2.1 The site selection procedure.
The supply of survival boxes from Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge has
been the subject of a thorough analysis and reflection in relation
to the particular characteristics of the supplies in that they
differ significantly from other WASH supplies both by the content of
the boxes and their limited number.
All Communities affected by the bad weather were waiting for support
in water, sanitation and hygiene, but most communities affected were
much more populated and the number of boxes are not sufficient to
cover all affected. This was our own analysis and represented a
potential source of conflict between villagers in the sense that the
survival boxes offered more items more than other WASH kits. In
other words if the most popular survival boxes were seen by a wide
number of affected families given that the number of boxes was
The analysis we conducted concluded that the number of inhabitants
was a major consideration and led to a strategic assessment of a
number of localities before deciding where we should allocate the
survival boxes from the RC of Chelwood Bridge.
The consideration of this factor coupled with a demographic analysis
of poverty in general took us to the town of Outsa on the island of
Anjouan. This town has the distinction of being one of the more
isolated enclaves. Moreover it lacks basic social infrastructure.
The location of the resort was also problematic in the sense that
the terrain of the area is very hilly and the building of a road
does not seem likely in the near future.
2.1.1 Site Difficulties.
The choice of Outsa described above is dictated by the degree of
poverty characterized by the lack of access to basic social services
and accentuated by the emergency, including the lack of water. The
village has a small network of water supply which was damaged and no
longer covers the entire water needs of the villagers.
Sometimes the inhabitants move to the source of the water to collect
water. There is no storage device at the household level and in
relation to their daily water needs. The water used is usually not
treated so that such communities experience a prevalence of
waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid. Primary health
care is only available in the surrounding communities including
Health Center District Domoni and that of the region NioumakÚlÚ.
The population is predominantly rural and derives its income from
the mountain farms which are basically food production. The birth
rate is quite high because according to the explanations received in
the field this provides more labour which is essential to cultivate
and exploit more land, and explains the high birth rate of the
2.1.2 Sending and Receiving Boxes survival
The Comoros island nation in the Indian Ocean are too isolated by
air service and this is a major handicap in the delivery of air
cargo to the Comoros. There are in fact three to four airlines that
provide international connections. For these companies the aircraft
used are often low capacity including Boeing 730 which does not seem
best suited to deliver the cargo to the country. The flow of cargo
to the Comoros is often forced to pass through Nairobi or Dubai. It
is at these points that the Transit cargo often remains blocked.
This is what happened to survival Rotary boxes that arrived at
Moroni in batches on the following dates.
The shipment came in several shipments. 1st batch dated 05.24.2012
for 15 parcels, then 29/05 to 35 packages and 31/05 36. The last
shipment was scheduled to arrive on 14/07 with 14 package, but it
finally arrived on 21/07 to complete the whole.
Once arrived at the country level, the survival boxes are again
encountered the difficulties of inter-island shipping services. It
will be noted that the inter-island maritime traffic is not well
developed and that ships entitled to transport to the islands are
limited to a few boats that have approval to transport goods to the
Apart from this, we must also note the absence of regular program
serving the islands because these boats are also approved to travel
outside the country to neighboring countries such as Madagascar and
Tanzania. This was a handicap for the delivery of boxes of survival
to the final place of destination in particular on the island of
The routing boxes Rotary survival has necessitated a period of
storage at the expense of Moroni UNICEF waiting for the first
opportunity to be routed on the island of Anjouan. Cargoes were
therefore sent to Anjouan in stages after their arrival. The last
cargo is shipped in Anjouan in late July on 30/07 and arrived there
the next day.
2.1.3 Distribution in Anjouan.
UNICEF has established strong ties with partners in the islands
especially during emergency situations. For the distribution
operation at the island of Anjouan UNICEF has signed an agreement to
use the Comoros Red Crescent to entrust the task of Anjouan storage,
transmission and distribution.
This operation to distribute survival boxes under the agreement
between UNICEF and Red Crescent which gives it the responsibility to
deliver the boxes to the final recipient in the Outsa locality.
It should be noted that the Red Crescent had given priority to the
distribution of the WASH kits to localities that were accessible to
vehicles and the Rotary survival boxes were delivered last due to
the difficulty of mobilizing human resources required and the unique
challenges of the Outsa site.
2.1.4 Routing and distribution Outsa Village.
Where the village is landlocked and the boxes should be forwarded as
soon as possible, to the village, we investigated the most
appropriate track (route) for this operation – NB: No road currently
exists to reach the village. Three options are possible:
1. Ngandzale track to Outsa following the route of proposed road.
2. Following the mountains Ngandzale track (closest but too rough)
3. The trail through the village of Adda (across a wide valley)
Following a consultation meeting with the Red Cross and the General
Directorate of Civil Protection at the island, we agreed to go for
the last option for the following reasons.
The first route (through the town of Ngandzale) should be avoided
due to fears that the inhabitants would try to take the Survival
boxes for themselves and bring them into conflict with the Red
Crescent team. I recall that the WASH kits that had been distributed
in Ngandzale did not contain the same range of items and the danger
of conflict was too probable.
Secondly, the people of Outsa have told us they did not wish us to
use this route for fear that those carrying the boxes would be
attacked by their neighbours in Ngandzale who also wanted to have
the Rotary survival boxes.
Finally, we did not consider to supply boxes to Adda because the
village is not affected by the bad weather and therefore could not
claim in any way to be entitled to the kits as part of the emergency
Since the use of any vehicle was not feasible, the Red Crescent
mobilised the residents of Outsa to come to the village of Adda from
which they were to carry the 140 Rotary survival boxes on their
heads. It is very significant to note here the bravery and
selflessness of the villagers without whom the boxes would not have
arrived at the village.
All the village youths were mobilised to provide the transport (on
their heads) and this was successful since all the boxes reached the
village safely as planned, without damage or loss.
2.1.5 Distribution of boxes in the village.
The process of distributing the survival boxes provided by the
Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge did not present any particular
difficulties. The prior assessment of the most needy one hundred
families or households in the village had been made by the Red
Crescent representatives and this determined which families would
receive the boxes. Village representatives then assisted the trained
Red Crescent staff in the distribution. This was supervised by the
Head of the Red Crescent for the island of Anjouan and the UNICEF
Administrator responsible for water, hygiene and sanitation for the
A public meeting was called in the village square to which the
female heads of the families responded. The distribution was then
made using the list of families identified by the prior assessment
The operation took place peacefully and women were the most
representative because it is they who took possession of the boxes
of survival. The operation lasted all morning and after the
distribution was completed, the administrator UNICEF WASH conducted
a briefing describing the contents and method of use of each Box and
took the opportunity to inform the villagers that the boxes had been
provided by the Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge, in collaboration
The village women were very grateful and informed the audience that
rarely receives help from outside. The women greatly appreciated the
contents of the boxes and they did not fail to let this be known at
the distribution session.
III Communication and Visibility
Based on the briefing session for the villagers and feedback from
the local representatives of the Comoros Red Crescent the villagers
confirmed that the Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge had succeeded in
achieving the delivery and distribution of the Water Survival Boxes.
This had been achieved in collaboration between UNICEF and
Worldwaterworks Ltd organising the transportation of the boxes to
the island of Anjouan and then to the very remote village of Outsa
Furthermore the boxes themselves, their packaging and appearance
helped to identify them with ease and let the recipients know their
origin. Many photographs were taken of the distribution session and
these are the subject of an appendix to this report. The Annex will
also include the list and signatures of the village women who
received the boxes.
Mr Mohamed Maarouf,
Moroni, le 15 septembre 2012