Health warning and potential environmental disaster in Hadramout [Archives:2008/1205/Front Page]

November 6 2008

By: Aqeel Al-Halali
For the Yemen Times

SANA'A. Nov. 5 ) Damage inflicted by flash floods in the governorates of Hadramout and Al-Maharah late last month is not limited to material and human loss, but includes the threat of an environmental disaster, particularly in districts of the Hadramout Valley.

Head of the Health Office of the coastal area of the Hadramout Al-Abd Ba Mousa warned that stagnant water and dead animal bodies could lead to a potential environmental disaster and explained that waste should be removed within two weeks to avoid disastrous water contamination.

Ba Mousa demanded that the government prepare itself for a potential environment disaster. He noted that the capacities available to the local authority would be insufficient to manage such a scenario.

“Despite joint efforts exerted by the Offices of Water and Public Works to drain away flood water and spray insecticides [to avoid a malaria epidemic], we cannot achieve everything due to weak capacities and a lack of public awareness,” said Ba Mousa. “The situation calls for more efforts and governmental as well as popular collaboration.”

He further said, “Waste has become a source of risk and we need immediate intervention to prevent outbreaks.”

The Ministry of Public Health and Population confirmed last Monday that Hadramout and Al-Maharah were epidemic free.

Director of the Epidemic Program in the ministry Abdul Hakim Al-Kahlani said that the program declared its readiness to face any potential epidemics through establishing 14 field medical centers in the affected districts to detect any epidemic and take the necessary precautions.

The local authority in Sayoun city authorized the General Corporation for Rural Water to test water sources in Hadramout's various districts make sure it is drinkable “after some of the water resources in the area were contaminated by remnants of animal bodies that were taken by floods” and stressed the importance of taking necessary precautions to clean the water.

Additionally, authorities have started to dispose of dead animal bodies by incinerating them “to avoid any environmental threat to public health and life in the affected areas.”