The eruption of Mount Nyiragongo on May 22nd melted water pipes and damaged a huge 5,000 m³ reservoir, the agency said on Monday.
Fear of cholera
Without access to clean water and sanitation, children and families are at increased risk for water-borne diseases such as cholera.
“Cholera is particularly dangerous for the very young, the very old and the undernourished, so an outbreak could have disastrous consequences for children,” said In Hye Sung, UNICEF emergency specialist.
“Children under the age of 5 have the highest incidence of cholera and are more likely to die from it. It is therefore important that families have access to clean water as soon as possible. ”
Forced to flee
The volcanic eruption killed 30 people and around 3,500 more lost their homes.
In the wake of the crisis, numerous people from Goma fled to neighboring cities, either because their houses were destroyed by lava or the authorities advised them to leave for fear of another outbreak.
Together with national and international partners, UNICEF is working on the water issue, among other things by supporting the state water company in the diversion and protection of a bypass pipeline system that supplies the pumping station on Lake Kivu with part of the main water system.
When previous cholera epidemics began in Goma when residents collected dirty, contaminated water to drink, UNICEF installed 15 emergency chlorination stations near the lake.
The situation in Buhene, a district that has been flattened by lava, illustrates the effects of water scarcity. Hundreds of people had to line up there to temporarily get water from a truck connected to a pump.
UNICEF, along with humanitarian partners Caritas and AVUDS, was among the first to provide water to tens of thousands of displaced people in the nearby towns of Sake, Rutshuru and Minova, and is now doing the same in Goma.
Trucking operations were ramped up with the aim of supplying around 200,000 people with emergency water. It will be reduced in size as soon as the water network in Goma is partially functional again.
UNICEF is also part of a task force supporting the installation of 1,500 meters of pipeline on the lava to replace molten pipelines. The pumping station will be reconnected to manifold reservoirs in the hills above Goma, which were not damaged during the eruption.