Operation Abacus stormed into action today. Not to be out-done by the testosterone-heavy Water and Sanitation (WatSan) team with ‘Operation Liquid Gold’ and the logistics team with ‘Operation Rolling Thunder’ for the very successful NFI distribution and even the medical team’s ‘Operation Teardrop’ for setting up Oral Rehydration Points (ORPs) throughout KM18 and Jamam camp (local points where anyone suffering from dehydration or diarrhoea can obtain oral rehydration solution without walking to the health point), the epidemiologists set up Operation Abacus, a rapid mortality survey of Jamam camp using 22 teams of recently-trained outreach workers.
And what a success! We were shocked that the teams understood so rapidly what they needed to do. We did a pilot this morning and they completed more than 300 houses in less than an hour. They were so keen they were trying to survey each other’s allocated tents! Not bad for a team that can’t read or write.
Actually to be fair the WatSan team is being led by a woman. I asked them to explain to a lay person what the water problem is (apparently I received a question on Facebook). So the problem is that there aren’t enough water sources. They think there’s enough deep water but they’re unsure how best to access it and it seems to take a while to replenish. So they’re exploring shallow water sources which, if they provide water now, are likely to provide water long-term because they have survived a dry season. Hence the WatSan team are pursuing shallow water sources.
We had the first rains since my arrival last night. You couldn’t help but wonder how the refugees at KM18 were coping with their plastic sheeting and blankets. And then this morning the UNHCR trucks and buses struggled to reach KM18. The days are numbered for transferring these people out of KM18 and we have contingency plan on top of contingency plan. None of which are appealing. We’re all just praying for the rain to stay away a few more weeks.