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East Timor: Water running again for returnees in Dili

21-10-1999 News Release 99/42

The water network, which was badly damaged when Dili was destroyed, is slowly being repaired thanks to the materials and support which the ICRC is providing as part of a multi-agency effort to ensure that the population has access to water.

Yesterday the water began flowing again at the rate of around 40 litres per second for the returnees living in Becora, a district of Dili. As a result, people can once again use the communal fountains, which ran dry when the electricity needed to generate the pumps was cut.

These repairs are part of a major water and sanitation programme jointly launched by the ICRC and other agencies such as Oxfam. The aim is to rehabilitate bore-holes, pumps and water treatment plants in Dili, many of which have been poorly maintained, and to provide the local water authority with the tools and spare parts needed to repair leaks. Strong emphasis has been placed on enabling the water authority to take over from the agencies in the future.

According to Patrick Kilchenmann, ICRC water and sanitation engineer: " Most of the senior staff have left and only a small number of technicians remain. They are a highly motivated team, but they need supervision and don't have the means to do the job. It was impressive to see how they managed with what little they had to stop up the countless leaks that occurred when the city was destroyed. We are very careful to include them in all our decisions since they will eventually be in charge. "