United Nations international appeal for humanitarian assistance and initial rehabilitation activities following Hurricane Iris: launched in Belize on 17 October 2001

Report
from United Nations
Published on 17 Oct 2001


I. OVERALL SITUATION
1.Hurricane Iris, a category four strength hurricane, hit southern Belize on 8 October 2001 at approximately 20:45 local time. The eye of the hurricane passed over some 40 villages located in the two poorest districts in the south of Belize: Toledo and Stann Creek. The hurricane resulted in storm surge related waves of between 13 and 18 feet above normal. Most of the damage caused by Iris was the result of winds that reached up to 145 miles per hour.

2.This area has not been directly hit by a hurricane for half a century and the events of 8 October have left thousands of people stunned. However, the number of casualties is low, thanks to the good evacuation process implemented by NEMO and the responsiveness of the population. 22 people have been confirmed dead and 8 are still missing. Approximately 21,500 people have been directly affected and 43% of these are under 18 years of age.

3.The area affected is the poorest region of the country. The majority of the particularly vulnerable population here is made up of Mayan and Garinagu communities which are the poorest ethnic groups in the country (up to 58% of the people in Toledo fall below the poverty line, in comparison with the national rate of 35%).

District
Urban Population
Rural population
Total population
Affected population
% of population affected
Toledo
4,329
18,968
23,297
11,225
48.18
Stann Creek
8,814
15,734
24,548
10,343
42.13
TOTAL
13,143
34,702
47,845
21,568
45.07

4. 3,000 houses, 21 public buildings, 31 schools and 17 primary health centers were damaged or destroyed by the hurricane. Some villages have been totally destroyed. The poorest sectors of the population who live in the affected areas have almost no possibility of rebuilding with their own resources. There are approximately 10,000 persons currently living in temporary shelters who require direct humanitarian assistance. The majority of these people will require assistance until such time as they can return to their active lives and resolve their housing problem.


Table 1: SUMMARY OF KEY DATA

Number of Persons Dead
22
Houses damaged and destroyed
3,000
Public Buildings damaged
21
Schools damaged and destroyed
31
Farms damaged or destroyed
Over 12,000 acres of banana, rice, corn, cacao.
People evacuated during hurricane
11,380
Health Centers / Health Posts damaged
17
Population directly affected
21,568
Source: National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), October 15, 2001

5. It is estimated that approximately 50,000 people are at risk of adverse health conditions. Population movement and the effects of the disaster on the environment increase the risk of the endemic spread of diseases. In addition, months of medical supplies are lost, public health programs are interrupted and the tons of debris littering the landscape hamper the control of vectors.

6. The plight of children in the affected areas is of particular concern. Indeed, children in Toledo are particularly vulnerable under the present circumstances, especially considering the historical comparative weakness of the Toledo health services. Of the 35 health centers operating throughout the country only four are to be found in the Toledo district. The population here is widely dispersed and mobility is difficult, making access to health services more difficult for a population that is already the poorest in the country. Furthermore, in as far as malnutrition is concerned, retarded growth is a problem for more than 40% of Mayan children between the ages of 6 and 9. In 1998 the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the under-five mortality rate were 21.5 and 42 per 1000 live births respectively. If we add to this the poor quality of the health service in temporary shelters, the lack of adequate water sanitation facilities and in particular the lack of potable water, children could be facing a potentially explosive health threat. Children's mental health is also at risk since many have been thoroughly disturbed by witnessing the sudden destruction of their homes during this traumatic event. The destruction of schools and the interruption of classes call for immediate intervention and rapid provision of temporary school installations.

7. Most of the villages in Toledo that have been affected directly by the hurricane depend on subsistence farming. The recent hurricane has had a devastating effect on the capacity of this sector of the affected population to sustain their traditional livelihoods in the immediate future. Indeed, the hurricane destroyed the upcoming harvest of rice, beans and above all corn (over 50% destruction), as well as fruits, vegetables, and a large portion of the stock of chickens and pigs (which traditionally represent one of the main reserve assets). Because of the dependence by this vulnerable population on subsistence activity as the major source of food and revenue, the hurricane has been a severe blow on people's capacity to guarantee their own food security at least until the next harvest in March 2002.

8.On a wider scale, the agricultural sector experienced significant and in some areas devastating damage. Preliminary estimates indicate that over 12,000 acres of banana, rice, corn, and cacao were lost and a number of grain warehouses were destroyed. The cost for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the agriculture sector (productive infrastructure and services) is already estimated at over US$ 56,500,000. The fishing resources of several hundred fishermen have been damaged or destroyed and like farmers, fishermen are in need of support for rehabilitation. Estimates so far place fisheries total loss at up to US$ 4,860,000.

9. Communication lines and electric power infrastructure have also undergone significant damage and several areas in both districts will be without telephones and electricity for several weeks.

10. Preliminary assessment also shows significant environmental damage. The 145 mph winds slit trees in two or tore them out at their roots. The destruction of forest resources around villages that have traditionally utilized building materials from these forests will worsen the already precarious predicament of the affected people.

II. THE RESPONSE

National:

11. Immediately after the hurricane, the Government of Belize began important efforts to respond to the national emergency. The central government, municipalities, villages, organizations of civil society and citizens reacted immediately by distributing materials for the construction of temporary shelters and other humanitarian aid. The various committees of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) continue to coordinate immediate relief, assess damage and needs and organize international assistance for the rehabilitation process. Most national support has been in the form of donation of emergency relief supplies, cash donations and voluntary labor.

UN and Other International:

12.The United Nations System in Belize (UNDP, UNICEF, PAHO/WHO) responded quickly to the emergency using its own funds, and channeling resources from bilateral donors to directly assist the affected population. The sum exceeding US$ 280,000 raised in this manner during the first week was distributed as follows:

  • PAHO/WHO: US$100,000 for health, two health disaster advisers from CPC Barbados, two epidemiologists; one from CAREC and other from PAHO/WHO, to be posted one in Stann Creek District and the other in Toledo District, and two SUMA experts to be posted one at the International Airport and one in the port;

  • UNICEF: US$50,000 for rapid assessment, emergency food and water, temporary school installations and psycho-social assistance;

  • UNDP: US$100,000 for emergency humanitarian relief;

  • OCHA: US$15,000 Emergency Grant as well as a Norwegian Grant through OCHA of US$15,000, to be used for humanitarian emergency aid and the deployment of a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team.

  • WFP has also contributed so far through the immediate dispatch of an emergency officer in order to evaluate the emergency food needs of the affected population.

13.The international community reacted immediately with financial, human resources and in-kind assistance. In spite of this rapid display of international solidarity, resources are insufficient to meet all emergency humanitarian needs. Additionally, there is a lack of national resources for the major rehabilitation stage already in its early stages.

III. OBJECTIVES OF THE INTERNATIONAL APPEAL

14. Based upon the assessment carried out by the Government together with the UN agencies, and the needs identified as priorities, the objectives of the appeal are:

1. To continue to support national efforts in the provision of immediate humanitarian relief for the affected population;

2. To support the national efforts of government and civil society in short-term mitigation and rehabilitation with special focus on (a) vulnerable populations facing extreme poverty and exposed to higher risks, and on (b) the reduction of conditions of marginality.

IV. STRATEGIES OF THE UN SYSTEM

15. The plan of the United Nations System targets the most affected, and hence the most vulnerable families in the communities affected by the disaster. It aims to avoid creating dependency through the activities implemented and to decrease vulnerability. It also takes into consideration the emergency priorities of the Government of Belize and the information provided thus far by NEMO.

16. In order to support the rapid recovery of the economy in the affected areas, the projects will, to the extent possible, procure inputs, food and labour at the local level. The UN agencies, which have already developed strong partnerships in civil society, will include civil society organizations as key implementing counterparts. The strategic areas of intervention by each agency have been selected according to the competence built up in their Cooperation Programmes during the past decades of presence in Belize.

17. The principle of complementarity of relief action among United Nations System agencies is already taking into consideration the different relative strengths and mandates of each UN agency. The plan is also being coordinated with projects that other non-UN agencies are already developing at a national level.

V. SUMMARY OF AREAS INCLUDED IN THE APPEAL

18. Projects covered by this appeal will benefit some 20,000 persons with specific programs of assistance. A total of US$ 1,415,000 is requested. These funds are needed immediately to provide food, water, health services, sanitation, housing, education, protection to the affected population, as well as support for the rehabilitation and reactivation of basic social infrastructure (schools, health centers or health posts, community centers, shelters) and technical assistance for the reactivation of agricultural production, livestock, fishing and tourism.


Table 2: SUMMARY OF RESOURCE NEEDS BY UN AGENCIES

Agency
Amount in US$
UNICEF
300,000
PAHO/WHO
330,000
UNDP
510,000
WFP
200,000
UNV
75,000
Total
1,415,000

\Table 3: SUMMARY OF RESOURCE NEEDS BY SECTOR

Sector
Agency
Amount in US$
SHELTER
UNDP
120,000
EDUCATION
UNICEF
170,000
FOOD AID
WFP
UNICEF
200,000
20,000
CHILD PROTECTION
UNICEF
75,000
HEALTH Water & Sanitation
PAHO/ WHO
UNICEF
330,000
35,000
INCOME GENERATING ACTIVITIES
UNDP

AGRICULTURE

150,000
FISHERIES

100,000
SMALL TOURISM ENTERPRISES

80,000
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
UNDP
PAHO/WHO
60,000
LOCAL HUMAN RESOURCES
UNV
UNDMT
75,000
TOTAL
1,415,000

Table 4: CONTACT LIST

Agency
Contact point
UNICEF
  • Nils Kastberg - Director of Emergency Operations New York
    nkastberg@unicef.org
    Telephone: (212) 326 7222
  • Miguel Ugalde - UNICEF Belize
    mugalde@unicef.org
    Telephone: (501) 8 20 104 / 8 20 105
PAHO/WHO
  • Dra. Graciela Uriburu - Representative in Belize
    uriburug@blz.paho.org
    Telephone: (501) 2 44885/ 2 44852
UNDP
  • Bruno Moro - UN Resident Coordinator: UNDP Belize and El Salvador
    bruno.moro@undp.org
    Telephone: (503) 263 0066
  • Consuelo Vidal - Deputy Resident Representative: UNDP Belize and El Salvador
    consuelo.vidal@undp.org
    Telephone: (503) 263 0066
  • Dylan Vernon - Assistant Representative: UNDP Belize
    dylan.vernon@undp.org
    Telephone: (501) 822688
WFP
  • Judith Thimke - Emergency Coordination Officer
    WFP Regional Bureau
    judith.timke@wfp.org
    Telephone: (505) 266 2566 /266 3937
UNV
  • Cristina Herrero - Programme Officer
    cristina.herrero@undp.org
    Telephone: (503) 263 0066 ext 260

VI. REQUIREMENTS FOR HUMANITARIAN AID AND INITIAL REHABILITATION ACTIONS BY SECTOR AND BY AGENCY

1. SHELTER

Responsible UN agency: UNDP

Justification: Near to 3,000 houses suffered complete or partial damage leaving over 10,000 homeless or in damaged houses. GOB has prioritized shelter as an immediate and long term need.

Objective:

  • To provide building materials to the affected population in the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts

Beneficiaries: People made homeless, or with severely damaged homes

Counterparts: NEMO, Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology, Belize Audubon Society, Maya Leaders Alliance

Required Budget: US$ 120,000

Shelter Required Budget US$
UNDP
120,000
Total
120,000

2. EDUCATION

Responsible UN agency: UNICEF

General Objective: to support the Ministry of Education in ensuring the continuation of basic education of children affected by the total or partial destruction of schools and educational supplies.

Counterparts: Ministry of Education, NGOs

Duration: 6 months

Beneficiaries: 5,500 children of Toledo District.

Objectives:

  • To purchase school supplies, books, equipment and furniture, Edukits or School-in-the-box
  • To strengthen the school feeding programme by providing cooking equipment for 40 schools
  • To support the Ministry of Education in the replacement and rehabilitation 28 school buildings and sanitation facilities damaged by Hurricane Iris and the repairing of 12 partially destroyed schools.
  • To support teacher training in disaster preparedness and prevention.

Educational Sector required budget US$
UNICEF
170,000
Total
170,000

3. FOOD AID

Responsible UN Agencies: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME and UNICEF

The objective of WFP assistance is as follows:

  • To provide emergency family food assistance for 6,000 people for 3 months (November - January) in order to guarantee their food security up to the next harvest.

Activities: Food distribution will be implemented in coordination with national and inter-agency efforts

Duration: 3 months

Counterparts: Ministry of Human Development (logistics) and national and international NGOs (distribution).

Required budget: US$ 200,000

The objective of UNICEF:

  • To ensure immediate emergency access of children and breast-feeding mothers to food provisions through UNICEF's local counterparts responsible for monitoring equal distribution.

Beneficiaries: 1,500 people for 3 weeks

Required budget: US$ 20,000

Food aid required budget US$
WFP
200,000
UNICEF
20,000
Total
220,000

4. CHILD PROTECTION

Responsible UN agency: UNICEF

1) PSYCHO-SOCIAL RECOVERY OF CHILDREN

General Objective: To mitigate the adverse psychological effects induced by the hurricane in children and their parents and enhance their psychological well being.

Beneficiaries: 5,000 children and their families.

Duration: 3 months.

Counterparts: Ministry of Human Development, NGOs

Specific Objectives:

  • To provide psycho-affective care for children between 1 and 12 years of age and ensure further support for reunification of affected families and unaccompanied children/adolescents.
  • To support the training of 100 teachers, 24 nurses and 36 community workers laboring in the affected areas in basic counseling skills and establish a network of referrals.
  • To adapt, translate and produce psycho-social rehabilitation materials from Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
  • To reprint hurricane preparedness materials for general distribution (Training Manual and 'Managing Stress in the Classroom', Disaster Preparedness Coloring book for Children, COMPAR Disaster Training Manual)

Required budget: US$ 35.000

2) RELIEF SUPPLIES

Justification: The nature and extent of damage has meant that families have lost the most basic of possessions including essential household appliances

Counterparts: Ministry of Human Development, Toledo Association of Alcaldes

Beneficiaries: 4,000 families among the most vulnerable.

Duration: 3 months

  • To support families in recovery of household effects.
  • The nature and extent of damage has meant that families have lost the most basic of possessions including essential household appliances. To meet this immediate need, UNICEF will assist with the purchase of essential children's supplies, household effects and equipment to replace those lost or damaged

Required Budget: US$ 40,000
CHILD PROTECTION
Required budget US$
UNICEF
75,000
Total
75,000

5. HEALTH, WATER AND SANITATION

1) WATER QUALITY

Responsible UN agency: PAHO/WHO

Counterparts: Ministry of Health at district level and community committees. Local NGOs.

Objective: To improve water quality in affected communities

Beneficiaries: 30,000 people

Justification: all water systems in the affected areas are non-functional or contaminated. Health workers and community leaders report cases of waterborne diseases.

Duration: 6 months

Budget:

ACTIVITIES
Required budget US$
Purchase of testing equipment (4 portable labs)
20,000
Purchase and install automated chlorinators in 20 communities
20,000
Refurbishment of damaged water systems (water lines, pumps and tanks) in 10 communities
50,000
TOTAL
90,000

2) SANITATION MEASURES

Responsible UN agency: PAHO/WHO

Counterparts: Ministry of health at district level and community committees. School principals. Local NGOs.

Objective:

  • To reduce the risk of waterborne and fecal borne diseases in affected areas.

Beneficiaries: 30,000 people

Justification: All latrines are destroyed or floating. 70 to 95% of houses are destroyed or severely damaged. Malaria and dengue are endemic in those areas.

Duration: 6 months

ACTIVITIES
Required budget US$
Refurbishment of sanitation facilities in 20 community centers and schools
60,000
Cleaning up activities at village level including mosquito breeding sites in 20 villages
40,000
TOTAL
100,000

3) NON-STRUCTURAL DISASTER MITIGATION FOR HEALTH FACILITIES

Responsible UN agency: PAHO/WHO

Counterparts: Ministry of Health at district level and community committees. Local NGOs.

Objective:

  • To reduce the vulnerability of health institutions in the affected areas.

Beneficiaries: 30,000 people

Justification: 11 health institutions were destroyed or severely damaged. Mostly they were primary health centers at community level.

Duration: 6 months

ACTIVITIES
Required budget US$
Assess the vulnerability of all health facilities in the affected areas
10,000
Implementation of non structural mitigation measures (shutters, hurricane straps, generators and other needs according to the assessment)
100,000
TOTAL
110,000

4) RESTORATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS

Responsible UN agency: PAHO/WHO

Counterparts: Ministry of Health at district level and community committees. Local NGOs.

Objective:

  • To reduce the risk of waterborne and fecal borne diseases in affected areas.

Beneficiaries: 30,000 people

Justification: Malaria and dengue vector borne diseases are endemic in the affected areas. Reports show multiplication of breeding sites

Duration: 6 months

ACTIVITIES
Required budget US$
Purchasing of insecticides and larvicides
22,500
Acquisition of portable ULV foggers and personal protective equipment
7,500
TOTAL
30,000

5) EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES IN WATER AND SANITATION

Responsible UN Agency: UNICEF

General Objective: To prevent an outbreak of water borne diseases and sanitation related infections through ensuring access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Counterparts: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Plenty International

Beneficiaries: 4,000 people from 11 villages of Toledo District

Objectives:

  • To ensure basic water & sanitation with particular emphasis on women and children, as well as to ensure water & sanitation infrastructure at affected schools throughout stricken areas of the country.
  • To avoid the spread of outbreak diseases (i.e. cholera) and dehydration of children within temporary shelters.

Strategy carried out by means of:

Extension of the Pro-Maya project to provide health and sanitation education, including pilot latrine projects.

Support to initiatives to change behavior, especially among Mayan communities with emphasis on sanitation related issues.

Provision of on-going health education programmes in all affected communities.

Required budget: US$ 35,000

Health required budget US$
PAHO/WHO
330,000
UNICEF
35,000
Total
365,000

6. INCOME-GENERATING ACTIVITIES

1) AGRICULTURE

Responsible UN agency: UNDP

Justification: Agricultural damage is estimated at US$ 45,220,000. While large farmers were insured, most small farmers were not and need assistance to return to productive capacity quickly.

Objectives:

  • To assist subsistence farmers in both affected districts to return to productive capacity through provision of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizer, tools)

Duration: 6 months

Beneficiaries: poorest families of small farmers in both districts

Counterparts: Ministry of Agriculture, Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology, Help for Progress, Maya Leaders Alliance

Required budget: US$ 150,000

2) FISHERIES

Responsible UN agency: UNDP

Justification: Losses in the fishing sector reached US$ 4.8 million. The fishing industry is totally made up of fishermen in small cooperatives who need assistance to return to productive capacity and support their families.

Objectives:

  • To assist small fishermen in both affected districts to return to productive capacity through provision of required inputs (lobster traps, boat repairs, engines, fishing gear)

Beneficiaries: fishermen and their families in coastal villages in both districts

Duration: 4 months

Counterparts: Coastal Zone Management Institute, Belize Federation of Fishing Cooperatives, Northern Fishermen Cooperative.

Required budget: US$ 100,000

3) SMALL TOURISM ENTERPRISES

Responsible UN agency: UNDP

Justification: While larger tourist destinations were insured, most family and community-run small tourist enterprises were not. The families and communities require assistance to return to productive capacity

Objectives:

  • To assist small tour operators in both affected districts to return to productive capacity through provision of required inputs
  • To assist small family and community operated hotels and restaurants to return to productive capacity through support to replace lost inputs.

Beneficiaries: Tour operators in both Districts and owners of small family and community operated hotels and restaurants.

Duration: 6 months

Counterparts: Belize Tour Guides Association, Belize Hotel Association, Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology.

Required budget: US$ 80,000

Income generating activities required budget US$
UNDP
330,000
Total
330,000

7. DISASTER MANAGEMENT/REDUCING VULNERABILITY

Responsible UN Agency: UNDP (PAHO/WHO as co-responsible)

Justification: The experience of the emergency indicates that there was weakness in the capacity of the local authorities and NGOs to prepare for disasters and coordinate relief. Disaster management training in the period after immediate relief can contribute to reducing vulnerability to disasters.

Objectives:

  • To assist NEMO to provide disaster management training to the District Emergency Management Organizations (DEMOs) and to the village branches of NEMO in both affected districts

Beneficiaries: Members of DEMOs in both affected districts. 200 community and NGO leaders in both affected districts.

Duration: Start December / End March

Counterparts: Belize Red Cross, UNICEF, Association of Village Council Leaders, Association of National Development Agencies.

Required budget: US$ 60,000

Disaster Management required budget US$
UNDP
60,000
Total
60,000

8. LOCAL HUMAN RESOURCES FOR SUPPORTING HURRICANE RELIEF

Responsible Agency: UNV, UNDMT

Justification: After Hurricane Iris many government, civil society and UN agencies have been institutionally challenged due to demands on existing human resources. Local UNVs are requested to support hurricane relief efforts in targeted areas.

Objectives:

  • To mobilize 10 UNVs locally to provide targeted human resource support for hurricane relief in areas of coordination of food relief, agricultural rehabilitation, child protection, and to monitor implementation of UN agency projects.

Beneficiaries: UN agencies, government departments, civil society organizations.

Duration: 5 months

Counterparts:UNDP, UNICEF, PAHO/WHO, WFP, Ministry of Human Development, Maya Leaders Alliance

Budget: US$ 75,000

Local Human Resources - Amount US$
UNV
75,000
Total
75,000