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Eritrea: ICRC repairs war-damaged health centre and water system

15-12-2003 News Release 03/158

The scars of the 1998-2000 border conflict with Ethiopia are all too evident in many villages and towns along the Eritrean side of the border.

As part of its efforts to help people still suffering the consequences of inadequate, war-damaged infrastructure, the ICRC has repaired the badly damaged health centre at Shambuko, 30 kilometres south-east of Barentu. In Adi Quala, 90 kilometres south of Asmara, the ICRC has made substantial improvements to the water supply system. The ICRC has handed over both projects to the Eritrean authorities in the last few days.

The people of Shambuko were displaced twice during the war. When the guns fell silent in the second half of 2000, they came home to find many buildings in ruins. For a number of years, Shambuko and the surrounding villages have been without one essential building - a health centre. Up to 20,000 patients a year had been treated in a temporary structure that lacked the necessary space and facilities.

One of the ICRC's goals in Eritrea is to ensure that people in the border region have access to primary health care. A significant step towards achieving this aim has been to repair six war-damaged health facilities. The latest project, and by far the biggest, is the Shambuko health centre. Work here has involved repairing the badly damaged main building, together with the quarantine, kitchen and laundry areas. New items included an incinerator for medical waste and a water tank. In addition, the centre is now connected to the water system. The Eritrean Ministry of Health is supplying medical equipment and medicines, and is providing the medical and paramedical staff.

In the border town of Adi Quala, shelling had partly destroyed the water pumping stations, and pipelines were damaged. What was left of the water syst em could not supply a town of 15,000 people. The first step was to repair and rebuild the building that housed the pumping equipment. Once the building was finished, the ICRC installed two high-pressure pumps, a chlorine dosing pump and a dewatering pump. Together, these new machines will substantially increase the amount of water available in Adi Quala. At the other end of the network, the ICRC renovated the existing public water point near the market and built three new water points in residential areas near the town centre. The ICRC also donated a set of tools to the local water board committee, so they would be able to carry out repairs to the water network. Finally, after training local technicians on the new pumps and tools, the ICRC handed over the completed project to the municipal administration.

 For further information, please contact: Marçal Izard, ICRC Asmara, tel. ++29 11 181 164 or 181 130