Albania: Floods - Emergency Plan of Action Update n° 1 - Operation n° MDRAL007

Description of the disaster

Heavy rainfall affected the territory of Albania starting on 30 November 2017. In some areas, the density of rain was 130 mm for two uninterrupted hours. The rivers levels have been rapidly increasing, the water channels were blocked by debris streams, leading to floods in urban and densely-populated areas.

Based on the bulletin issued by Albania’s Geosciences, Energy, Water and Environment Institute forecasting heavy rains for the period between 29 November and 4 December 2017, the Directory for Civil Emergency issued an early warning to the population for flooding and landslides. The Albania central government ordered the establishment of Emergency Management Commissions across the country in response to the situation and all structures of police, army units, and emergency response teams to be placed on full alert. In addition, the Ministry of Education suspended the school activities in entire country. Thanks to the early warning and measures taken by respective governmental structures, no lives were lost. The number of people evacuating from these areas on their own was higher compared to previous flood events.

On 2 December 2017, the Vjosa, Devoll, Osum and Seman rivers have overflowed their banks, causing huge flooding in several areas endangering also some major national highways. The populated areas most affected by the overflow of rivers were the following: Fushë-Krujë, Ura e Gjoles, Murqine, Vore, Kamez, Laprake, Darzeze, Jaru, Bishtan, Ferras, Kashisht, Martin, Novosele, Bishan, Mifol, Fitore, Ure Vajgurore, Korce, and Gjirokaster. The civil emergency structures, the military units and state police evacuated the most vulnerable families in the three most affected areas of Vlora, Fier and Fushë-Krujë, and, in the areas where the conditions allowed, have started repairing the damaged infrastructure.

According to official figures provided by the government, 1,550 persons have been evacuated and were accommodated at sports facilities/halls, school dormitories or at their relatives. 3,340 houses were flooded, 65 bridges collapsed, and 56 public schools were damaged, while 15,000 hectares of land was brought under water. In some areas, the water was not suitable for drinking; and electricity supplies were also cut off in some of the affected areas. According to the information provided by the 22 Albanian Red Cross (ARC) branches which were operating in the flooded areas, approximately 4,700 families (or approximately 21,000 people) were affected by the floods in total. According to the initial assessment, about 2,000 families were identified as severely-affected, and later on 3,000 families were recorded to have incurred considerable losses. The affected families have lost mostly their winter food reserves and partly their livestock, home furniture and domestic electrical devices. In addition, daily information received by the ARC branches showed that there was no need for Restoring Family Links (RFL) services as the evacuated families were accommodated by their relatives and school facilities while the communication network was well-functioning.

Summary of current response

In response to emergency, ARC has carried out the following activities:

  • ARC closely coordinated with the local authorities in assessing the situation and mapping the needs. 22 ARC branches mobilised 450 trained volunteers, who were involved in raising awareness of the population, monitoring of and collecting information on the situation, conducting preliminary assessments and in the relief distribution. The secretaries of the ARC branches participated in the meeting of the emergency management commissions, and awareness-raising messages for the population were disseminated through social media channels (such as the National Society’s Facebook page and website). One dedicated person was appointed to coordinate the distribution at the HQ level.
  • ARC immediately commenced the distribution of 1,100 blankets and 7.4 MT of basic food items from disaster stock and 750 liters water for about 1,100 people who were accommodated at the collective centers in Durres, Berat, Kavaja, Tirana, as well as others accommodated at their relatives’.
  • Meanwhile on 3 December, ARC started the distribution of the standard ration package per family, which contained 20 kg wheat flour, 20.5 kg basic food, 4 blankets and 1 hygiene kit – all items coming from disaster contingency stock, reaching 700 most-affected families.
  • Subsequently, the logistic division of ARC organised a tendering procedure and purchased 2,000 food parcels as was planned in the DREF EPoA. Of these, 700 were used to replenish the contingency stock, while 1,300 were distributed to beneficiaries.
  • ARC printed labels with the ARC logo for carton boxes to hold the food items, and continued the distribution according to the plan.
  • ARC also purchased 1,000 additional food parcels for stock reserve since as the winter set, to be prepared for the onset of an upcoming disaster.
  • ARC organised two workshops with 60 participants from 22 schools in flood-affected areas, with the aim of promoting awareness of risk and of hygiene and sanitation activities.
  • In addition to the above, ARC received separate contributions/donations from the Turkish Red Crescent Society, Macedonian Red Cross, Italian Red Cross and other National Societies, enabling ARC to support 1,000 additional families with food and non-food items (blankets, mattresses, shoes, baby food, etc), which are currently in process of distribution.
  • The Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator and other relevant staff from the ARC Headquarters (HQ) in Tirana conducted regular field visits to the affected areas.

In total, ARC assisted a total of 2,850 affected families in the reporting period (from DP stock, DREF, and partner contributions), including the following number of families by geographic area: Fushë Krujë – 385 families, Fier – 820 families, Vlorë – 520 families, Tirana – 195 families, Kamëz – 100 families, Vorë – 55 families, Shijak – 40 families, Berat – 50 families, Lezhë – 40 families, Elbasan – 30 families, Korçë – 70 families, Gjirokastër – 90 families, Durrës – 50 families, Laç – 25 families, Kukws – 30 families, Kucove – 20 families. The remaining assisted families were families affected by floods and at the same time living in poor conditions, in other areas of the county.

The following activities are currently in progress:

  • ARC logistics are in process of producing t-shirts and caps with the ARC emblem for staff and volunteers involved in the relief operation to ensure visibility and organisational branding.
  • Awareness-raising leaflets for risks and hygiene promotion materials are currently being produced.
  • A ‘lessons-learned workshop’ will take place in Tirana 8–9 March 2018, involving ARC branch staff and volunteers who participated in the floods emergency response activities. The workshop will be facilitated by ARC HQ staff, with IFRC Regional Office for Europe (ROE) staff participating and providing technical support for monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities on the side.
  • Replenishment of DP stocks for blankets and hygiene kits is in process and will be done through IFRC Operational Logistics Procurement and Supply Chain (LPSCM).

All procurements related to this EPoA are following the IFRC standards and procurement procedures.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country

ARC maintains close contacts with IFRC ROE in Budapest for advising and support with the use of regional and global disaster response tools. In addition, the following National Societies have offered relief items and financial donation through bilateral support:

  • Turkish Red Crescent (1,000 blankets, 750 hygiene kits and EUR 15,000 for food parcels),
  • Macedonian Red Cross has donate 3 truck with food, hygienic kits, blankets and EUR 10 000),
  • Red Cross of Montenegro (rubber boots, blankets, jerry cans, jackets in the total value of EUR 7,000)
  • Bulgarian Red Cross (500 blankets, 500 bed linens) contribute through respective civil emergency system,
  • Red Cross Society of China (50,000 USD),
  • Italian Red Cross (one truck with clothes, blankets and hygiene items),
  • Croatian Red Cross (5,000 EUR).

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

The Directory of Civil Emergency coordinated the response on behalf of all Albanian state structires. The Albanian government has mobilised the state police forces, military units and fire brigades units, which assisted the affected families in high-risk areas, especially with evacuations and the reinforcement of rivers dams and reparation of the damaged bridges.