2008 Volume 36 Issue 2 Pages 65-74
On 2nd April 2007, at 7:40 local time (20:40 GMT 1 April), a massive earthquake, the epicenter of which was 10 km deep and 45 km south-southeast of Gizo, the provincial capital of the Western Province, struck the Solomon Islands, killing 52 people and displacing approximately 5,000. This study, based on field research in May 2007, reports on the result of the cross-sectional assessment of the bacterial contamination (E. coli, Vibrio spp. and total bacteria) of drinking water and water sources and the longitudinal comparison of dietary intake and epidemiology in six earthquake- and tsunami-affected villages in the Western Province, Solomon Islands. The test-paper method revealed that 92.0% of drinking-water was unsafe in four camps of evacuated people. Only 3 out of 11 drink-water samples collected from safe water sources were free from contamination throughout the study villages. The reported occurrence of diarrhea, while only 7.6 per mil in 2001 and 4.8 per mil in 2003 in one of the study villages, was 12.7 person-days per mil after the disaster in 2007. Deterioration of dietary intakes was not observed. Although further studies are expected to follow up on the changes in water, diet, and health in mid- and long-term recovery operations, the rapid assessment suggested the need to provide safe water or purifiers and education regarding water and hygiene-related management in order to minimize health risks in devastated villages.