NEW YORK/JOHANNESBURG, APRIL 22, 2022—Following catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides after torrential rains in the eThekwini region in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province last week, vulnerable communities and health facilities are facing a crisis of clean water provision and adequate sanitation, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Major district hospitals and dozens of health clinics in eThekwini—a municipality of 3.7 million people—are currently without water after floods damaged water supply systems, and people struggle to access health services due to the scale of infrastructural damage. MSF teams are working to provide health care and necessities such as hygiene products, as well as to prevent waterborne disease outbreaks in the affected region.
“The city remains in crisis 10 days after the storm,” said Dr. Mani Thandrayen, medical team leader for MSF in Durban. “It is now primarily a crisis of water and sanitation provision for hospitals, clinics, and communities. Failure to get this right could spell a deepening health crisis characterized by waterborne diseases. We have been supporting four of the shelters since last weekend, helping to meet the immediate needs of residents with food, water, cookware, blankets, mattresses, and basic hygiene products.”