Red Cross St. Maarten attends Watsan Training in Suriname


PHILIPSBURG–Four representatives of St. Maarten Red Cross left the island in July to attend the regionally-organised Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Watsan Technical Training for overseas branches in Suriname.

The aim of the 6-day training was to give participants the basic knowledge to analyse and test water and to purge water of disease germs. General Manager Nadjesca Gumbs, Disaster Coordinator Natasha Carty, Assistant Disaster Coordinator Travin Joseph and First-Aid Instructor Othneilia Binns volunteered and were selected to take part in the training.

The St. Maarten Red Cross branch was invited by Aruba Red Cross Association to attend the training which it organised in collaboration with Suriname Red Cross. The Watsan Training consisted of Red Cross volunteers from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Suriname and St. Maarten. Aruba also took the initiative to include Water and Energy Company WEB Aruba workers as participants in the Watsan Training.


The first training was the Mega V training that was held in May 2017 and was successfully completed by Joseph. The ODK and Mega V software is geared towards being able to efficiently and effectively assess a community to streamline distribution of humanitarian aid. The Mega V will improve the response time by 12 minutes, allowing a complete assessment to be done within three minutes.

Joseph will be conducting Mega V presentations in St. Maarten to bring the rest of his colleagues up to speed with the Mega V programme that is to be launched before the end of 2017. The launch depends on collaboration and cooperation with certain private- and public-sector businesses and organisations.

The Notebook for the Mega V programme is donated by Antek, IT-solutions and software. Additional requests have been made by other businesses and organisations for equipment and materials. The programme requires a laptop, barcode scanner and 10 Android phones with camera focus to fully prepare the participants for the upcoming training in Aruba.

This third training will have an integrated approach allowing participants to put together all the knowledge and experience gained in the other trainings to practical use in hands-on exercises. One of the great advantages of the organised trainings is that they allow the participants to not only network and exchange best practices, but also a chance to bond and work as a team.

This idea of achieving collaborate goals during these trainings will help to keep the momentum alive when called on to respond to national and regional emergencies.

Although the situation in Benati-mofo (a village near Marowijne, Moengo) is not categorised as an emergency situation the St. Maarten participants were elated to know that they played a part in providing 80 per cent of the households in Benati-mofo with clean drinking water.

Other parts of the Watsan Training included the Community-Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) course as well as detailed community assessment exercises and an introduction to the SPHERE standards (the Humanitarian Character and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response).

The participants were pleased that essential components of the Strategy 2020 – Saving Lives, Changing Minds – of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies were covered.

The trainers/facilitators, with almost two decades of experience, stressed the importance of being prepared to intervene with the appropriate approach during moments of crisis. In situations of chaos and despair it is of utmost importance that Red Cross volunteer relief workers treat beneficiaries in a humane and dignified manner stipulated in the SPHERE project handbook. It is also vital to conduct a good assessment of community specific needs along with precise calculations of the necessary supplies and resources.

The Watsan Training has heartened St. Maarten Red Cross Association to continue to push forward in organising eventful trainings and activities to meet international standards of the federation.

The St. Maarten Red Cross is urging the community of St. Maarten to get involved and volunteer at any organisation geared towards humanitarian work.

Source: The Daily Herald