16 Apr 2014

Solomons evacuation centres struggle

12:30 pm on 16 April 2014

The United Nations children's support agency UNICEF says people could be in evacuation centres on Guadalcanal for months yet, as Solomon Islands tries to recover from devastating floods almost a fortnight ago.

At least 21 people died when flash flooding hit the country, and aftershocks are continuing following Sunday's 7.6 magnitude quake.

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Photo: Save the Children

Some 9400 people are still living in evacuation centres in the capital Honiara.

UNICEF New Zealand executive director Dennis McKinley says the centres are struggling to cope, and with damage assessments of homes still to be carried out, there's no sign of people moving out soon.

He says the centres now have to cope with extra people after smaller centres were closed to allow children to return to school. Mr McKinley says that has increased the threat of disease.

Food and sanitation concerns

UNICEF also says farmers on Guadalcanal have been severely affected by the floods, which is putting a huge strain on food supplies.

Mr McKinley says mud has smothered and killed the crops.

He says that is having a real impact on people's ability to feed their families and a continuous supply of relief will be needed for months.

There is also a shortage of water and sanitation supplies in rural Guadalcanal, Mr McKinley says.

Aid workers have filtered 321,035 litres of water for people in evacuation centres.

The Solomon Islands Red Cross says it is setting up extra water purification units to boost the amount of water it can provide.

It says work to set up toilet facilities in the evacuation centres will also continue.