PERU: Salesian Missionaries Respond to Devastating Flooding, Prepare to Launch Health Project in Wake of Water Systems Collapse
(MissionNewswire) Devastating flooding caused by extreme weather since the start of 2017 has caused landslides in cities across Peru. According to the Associated Press, at least 72 people have died and 11 more are missing. More than 500,000 people have been affected with thousands left homeless after a series of storms struck the country in the last few weeks. At least 115,000 homes have been destroyed, roadways are impassable and 117 bridges are reportedly washed out.
Peru is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and the effects of intense rains that can cause flooding and landslides in the country. In the city of Piura, the sewer drainage system has been completely destroyed as a result of the flooding. Weather like this, coupled with the destruction of the drainage system, can be a breeding ground for disease and health complications for its residents. Salesian missionaries living and working in Piura, one of the hardest hit areas, are already responding to those who need assistance and are seeking funding to launch a project aimed at providing preventative health information as well as materials and supplies.
“Salesian missionaries in the city are reporting that the immediate effect of the flood in Piura is the collapse of drinking water and sewage systems leading to an increase in acute diarrheal diseases,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Vulnerable people, especially children and the elderly, are particularly at risk of illness and infection. People are also exposed to the concentration of dust particles in the air from debris removal, which can increase respiratory infections and infectious diseases to the skin and conjunctivitis, among other illnesses.”
Salesian missionaries working at schools and youth centers in the regions near Piura are planning to provide up to 900 families with prevention education about these diseases. The information will include the dissemination of key messages that promote basic hygiene practices and the adoption of healthy habits. This work will also help communities strengthen their capacities to adopt operational measures to safeguard against dengue, malaria, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infections and dermatological problems, among others.
In addition, missionaries are seeking funding to be able to provide the residents of these communities supplies like plastic tanks with lids, cleaning brushes and kettles for the storage and consumption of drinking water. They would also like to be able to provide supplies to help with the disposal of stagnant water and trash. Food and shelter are also a priority for Salesian missionaries and they aim to provide canned fish, cookies and milk powder for children as well as mosquito nets, raincoats, blankets, plastic sandals, plastic mesh for doors and windows, solar powered lanterns, mosquito repellent and rodent traps.
Salesian missionaries also want to provide emergency kits with medical supplies like gloves, band-aids, and necessary medicines to help community members who are already suffering from these diseases and those working to prevent them.
Peru has also been plagued by hunger and disaster. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of children in the country are chronically malnourished. Peru also faces high levels of income inequality and has more than a quarter of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce, as well as a lack of adequate housing, nutrition and education.
Salesian Missions, which helps to secure donations from those who wish to support Salesian missionaries work around the globe, is collecting donations for those who wish to help support these initiative in Peru and other projects at SalesianMissions.org/give.
Salesian Missions – Peru
World Bank – Peru