With half a million people affected by the floods in Nepal, there is an increased risk of a secondary emergency as flood waters recede.

Save the Children is warning that dirty stagnant waters left behind by the floods caused by weeks of monsoon rain, when combined with poor access to hygiene items and lots of people living in cramped evacuation centers, could increase the risk of an outbreak of disease.

“Right now hygiene is critically important to prevent an outbreak of waterborne illnesses and diseases like diarrhea, which can occur after flooding when there are large numbers of displaced families living in cramped, crowded conditions,” Save the Children’s Country Directory in Nepal Delailah Borja said.

“It’s really important that we prevent this from happening. It’s the last thing needed by children and families who’ve already been through so much” says Borja. Save the Children is responding to the floods by distributing hundreds of tarpaulins for temporary shelter as well as distributing hygiene items.

Save the Children New Zealand also has long established programmes in Nepal helping families to build financial security. The programmes aim to improve household income and food security in the face of these types of events by training farmers and young people from poor families to build more resilient agricultural practices.

In a country where agriculture is the principal source of food and income for 80% of the population, disasters like flooding can have a crippling effect on the people and the economy. “This is why our programmes are vital in countries vulnerable to emergencies like Nepal” says Heidi Coetzee, CEO of Save the Children New Zealand.