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 completely evacuated.

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 sanitation.

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 limited.

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 village.

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 islands.

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 Anjouan.

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 response.

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 Comoros.

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 of need.

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 with WorldWaterWorks

The village women were very grateful and informed the audience that their village
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.

prepared:  Mr Mohamed Maarouf, Administrator, WASH, UNICEF- COMORES
Moroni, le 15 septembre 2012