Damage to basic infrastructure slowing aid reaction

MSF preparing for vaccination campaigns and providing water chlorification tablets to residents.

In the coming days, lack of food and food delivery shall become a pressing issue for the needs of the population affected by the recent eruption of Mount Nyirangongo, near the city of Goma, DRC in Africa.

People have lost their homes, jobs and sources of income. Prices for goods and food have already started to climb and the immediate damage to the infrastructure of the city shall have consequences for aid delivery.

The northern access route to the city has been blocked by lava. The airport can only accept small, light planes and so there are severe limitations to the amount of materials that can be delivered there. Local companies are exploring using airstrips for delivery close to the region.

Vaccination campaigns and respiratory infections

MSF teams are monitoring for cholera, measles and meningitis. These are the diseases that are ongoing in the war-ravaged country. In addition, with the degree of volcanic ash and burning buildings that have accompanied the lava flow, MSF is monitoring respiratory infections, which are on the increase.

On January 23, MSF staff shall inoculate 5,000 people against polio and measles. These are the people who have remained in Gisenye in the camps of Mudende and Nkamira. The campaign is being done at the request of the Ministry of Health and in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Assessing needs remains difficult with roads, and entire regions blocked from any sort of passage, either by vehicle or by foot. However MSF will be assessing the situation by helicopter today in order to identify groups of people who may have been missed in the first wave of needs evaluation.

Water sanitation and delivery is part of the first action and, apart from installing water bladders to communities and checking water supplies, MSF is distributing chlorination tablets to the people gathering water from the lake.

Prior to the eruption, MSF was conducting a Therapeutic Feeding Centre (TFC) in Kitshanga with 100 children under the age of five. All the children were sent home last Friday because of the evacuation.  There were also three supplementary feeding centres (SFCs). MSF is determining how soon these activites can be resumed.