Red Cross Responds To Caterpillar Invasion

As the result of a reported caterpillar invasion in southeast Liberia, the Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) through its Community Based Health and Disaster Management Departments moved in quickly and conducted a rapid epidemic risk assessment in Sinoe, River Gee and Maryland Counties.

The assessment found that the caterpillar invasion polluted creeks and damaged crops in the affected communities, which lack adequate safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, limited water storage and health facilities. Over 4,456 people were affected by caterpillar invasion.

The rapid assessment outcome resulted to the Red Cross emergency response activities, including the distribution of water-guard and jerry cans; basic health education and hygiene promotional messages on how to prevent and control water-borne diseases in the affected communities.

In an effort to respond to the caterpillar invasion, the Ministry of Agriculture along with other partners was involved in the spraying of the affected communities with insecticide, compelling the caterpillars to go back into the forest. Despite the government effort to contain the spread of the caterpillar invasion, there is still fear that the caterpillar invasion may vigorously extend to neighboring counties.

Liberia has been historically impacted by various types of catastrophes in respect to natural and man-made disasters including erosion, flood, fire, storm, civil conflict and disease outbreak. During the outbreak of these disasters, the affected population, especially the most vulnerable are usually susceptible to disease outbreaks, trauma, hopelessness and loss human dignity.

Recently, the Liberian Red Cross intervened in a diarrhea outbreak in Bomi County. LNRCS random rapid epidemic risk assessment verified 88 cases of diarrhea, 25 cases referred, 22 cases under-five and 4 deaths. The assessment attributed the increasing diarrhea cases to poor management of drinking water, lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities, and the lack of adequate access to basic health facilities in the six communities visited in Klay district.

The LNRCS assessment team immediately chlorinated 4 wells and repaired one well in Vorkor; carried out basic health education and hygiene promotional messages on how to prevent and control water-borne diseases in the affected communities,  and provided 200 sachets of ORS as support to the ORT Corner at Klay A.B. Anderson Memorial Clinic.

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