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– by Kerstin Bücker, Claudio Schuftan
Tribune D+C/E+Z 2011/1, p. 33 f., Jeffrey Tyler Matuella: Well intended, yet harmful
We would like to correct a number of statements made in the article and put them into the right context. The distribution of water filters was part of the emergency relief programme in the wake of Hurricane Ida. In situations like that, the first priority is to help the communities affected to secure the fastest possible access to safe water. So, in contrast to long-term development projects, the primary focus here was neither sustainability nor income generation – both of which UNICEF considers important goals.
UNICEF emphasises sourcing relief supplies within a country or its region to the extent possible and feasible. The water filters described in the article were not imported from the United States, as your author claims; they were procured in Nicaragua. Reports of local health authorities show that only a small percentage of the filters were damaged during shipment. Since hygiene education matters in all UNICEF programmes, the distribution of water filters was flanked by appropriate projects.
Kerstin Bücker, UNICEF Germany, Cologne.