Work to treat polluted waters after Hurricane Stan


A team leaded by three expats has a established a base in the Chiquimulilla municipality, southern Guatemala. The entire area is made up of 40 little towns totalling 15,000 people.

The floods especially affected the communities situated in the Rio Esclavos way but also scattered houses in fincas or isolated communities.

In many places stagnant water can be seen and people still live in the mud in houses in a state that can best be described as precarious. Many peasants have lost their crops and a lack of food could be a future problem.

Health problems associated to lack of clean water have appeared and people are complaining about mosquito, diarrhea, respiratory troubles and mycosis. As Chiquimulilla is a malaria and dengue endemic area, and water is still remaining in some places, 9,000 impregnated mosquito nets are ready to be distributed to affected families and vector control activities will be soon implemented. Besides that, hygiene kits for 3,000 families will be distributed.

MSF is focusing in watsan activities: providing clean water while looking at the condition of the wells, mainly in health posts. Every family used to have their own well but, due to Stan, they are now contaminated or salty because they were built at a very low level under the land.

Prior to Hurricane Stan, several cases of Hepatitis A had been reported and MSF is following up the cases in close coordination with national health authorities in order to avoid outbreaks. Further vaccination actions are being studied.

Santiago de Atitlan

Officially more than 6,000 people still accommodated in 45 shelters, of which seven have a little more than 300 people each.

Relocation plans are being studied by local authorities and should soon be implemented. MSF plans a short intervention of mental health support to affected people. In addition, MSF work will include a water supply sufficient for the population and epidemiological control to avoid outbreaks. Since the beginning of the emergency, local health response were optimal and many international NGO's in addition to the Cuban Brigade will remain in Santiago.

MSF also made an explo to Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan. In Nueva Concepcion the watsan intervention ended with the inspection of wells' and and installation of a water tank in the health center.