Algeria: Floods in Ghardaia Emergency Appeal No. MDRDZ001



This Emergency Appeal seeks CHF 809,626 (USD 716,690 or EUR 531,950) in cash, kind, or services to support the Algerian Red Crescent (Algerian RC) to assist 2,513 families (12,000 beneficiaries) for six months.

CHF 187,166 (USD 165,800 or EUR 121,690) was allocated from the International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support this operation. Unearmarked funds to replenish DREF are encouraged.

Floods caused by heavy rains have killed 89 people, injured 50, and left many thousands homeless in and around the Algerian oasis town of Ghardaia on 2 October 2008. 11,800 families are estimated to have been affected by the worst floods the region has experienced for decades. Eight of the 13 districts of the surrounding Ghardaia province have been affected by the floods and thousands of homes have been inundated.

Based on the situation, this Emergency Appeal responds to a request from the Algerian RC, and focuses on providing support to take an appropriate and timely response in delivering assistance and relief in the following sectors: providing relief items, emergency health and care, water and sanitation, as well as conducting a disaster risk reduction (DRR) campaign. As the Algerian RC and the International Federation receive more comprehensive information over time, it is possible that new focus areas will be identified and targeted for relief assistance.

This operation is expected to be implemented over six months, and will therefore be completed by the end of April, 2009; a Final Report will be made available by the end of July, 2009 (three months after the end of the operation).

The situation

The region of Ghardaia is located in the valley of M'Zab, and geographically situated in the centre of the country (600 km south of the capital Algiers). Following the heavy rains in the beginning of October, mudslides overrun the riverbanks of Oued M'Zab, affecting the villages. Out of the 13 communes in the wilaya, a state of emergency was declared in eight of them - Ghardaia, Bounoura, El-Ateuf, DAIA Ben Dahou, Guerarra, Berriane, Metlili and Sebseb. Search and rescue operations have not been easy to conduct due to the difficulty in accessing some remote areas (road cuts, bad weather, phone and electricity lines cut). According to local witnesses, in some places, the amount of mud reached eight meters and some houses were buried up to the second floor. The authorities have confirmed the severity of the emergency situation and according to the last emergency coordination cell meeting on 11 October, 89 people were killed, 50 injured, 11,800 left homeless, and many other people are missing. A preliminary assessment reported at the emergency coordination cell in the wilaya indicated that more than 1,400 houses - often constructed with traditional stone walls bound by the mud - were flooded. In addition, the caves - the place where all food reserves for the winter are stored - are either completely or partially destroyed, or inaccessible. Affected people have lost all their belongings.

The return of residents will be allowed based on the expertise of technicians and engineers of the public technical housing committee (CTC). The houses damaged have been checked by the CTC, and the 9,600 expertise have been classified as red mark (600) meaning uninhabitable, orange mark (1,250) meaning repairable, and green mark (7,750), meaning inhabitable.

Algerian RC, civilian protection, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and volunteers are organizing their interventions on the site in favor of thousands of affected people. The solidarity of the Algerian population has also been seen concretely with the arrival of aid to disaster victims (three semi-trailers of food were dispatched from Ayn Témouchent; several tonnes of food were carried by the wilaya of Jijel; four large trucks loaded with food and various items arrived in Ghardaia last Saturday), and more truckloads of mineral water and food are expected. These efforts accompanied the ones of volunteers including architects, engineers and administrators in civil engineering. The aid was collected by the wilaya with the assistance of the committee of Algerian RC as well as other local and district associations. Brigades from different sectors are still assessing the damage and all measures needed to complete this operation.

During the emergency phase, the National Society has launched public appeals and benefited from an effective resource mobilization which has been transformed into local in kind and cash donations. However, considering the importance of the losses and the number of homeless, the Algerian RC is seeking to continue to support the affected population during the post-emergency and rehabilitation phase.