|Handbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) / Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), 1999, 414 p.)|
|17. Environmental sanitation|
Overcrowding, a harsh environment and disruption of normal sanitation habits can threaten the lives and well-being of the refugees in emergencies. Proper sanitation is a key aspect of the hygiene cycle involving water and health and is fundamental to a multi-sectoral approach in emergency response.
To prevent the spread of disease and promote a safe environment for the refugees.
Principles of Response
· The co-operation of the refugees is essential for success. Programmes must be developed with them, and, to the extent possible, run by them. The measures taken must be culturally acceptable to the refugees;
· Swift provision of a basic system for human waste disposal is better than delayed provision of improved systems;
· Take full account of sanitation needs in site selection and layout;
· Make full use of locally available human, material and technological resources. This includes using both skilled and unskilled refugee labour, using public health or sanitary engineering expertise available in the national institutions, and relying on the traditional practices of the refugees and the local people;
· The materials and technology chosen should be as simple as possible;
· The sanitation programme must include provisions for continuous maintenance of the sanitation facilities and services;
· The best guarantee that latrines will be used and kept clean is to allocate them on an individual or family basis. Refuse disposal should be arranged on a community basis;
· Wherever possible, restrict the use of chemicals (for the control of rats, flies and other pests particularly) to specific places and for a limited period of time. Environmental measures should be favoured instead.
· Localize defecation and prevent contamination of the water supply;
· Collect baseline data on the site and draw a sketch of the area to locate potential zones for sanitary facilities;
· Develop appropriate systems for disposal of excretia, garbage, and wastewater. Control vectors of public health importance such as mosquitoes, flies, fleas, lice, bugs, rodents and other vermin;
· Plan the amount of facilities and services to be provided. Optimum standards are: for excretia disposal: one latrine per family; for refuse: one bin of 100 litre capacity for 10 families or 50 persons; one sanitarian for every 5,000 persons, and one sanitation assistant for every 500 persons;
· Establish sanitation teams for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure;
· Set up services for vector control and burial of the dead;
· Establish a monitoring and reporting system for all environmental health services in co-ordination with the general health surveillance system;
· Include environmental sanitation as an integral part of health education.