Argentina

Argentina: Floods DREF Bulletin no. MDRAR002 Update no. 1

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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

In Brief

Period covered by this update: 13 April to 8 June, 2007.

History of this Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF)-funded operation:

- CHF 178,400 (USD 146,711 or EUR 110,123) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 7 April 2007 to respond to the most urgent needs of the affected population.

- This operation is expected to be implemented over 3 months, and will be completed by 7 July, 2007;

- A Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 7 October 2007). Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

The International Federation undertakes activities that are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background and current situation

Since February 2007 heavy rainfall and storms have caused severe flooding, affecting mainly the provinces of Entre Ríos and Santa Fe, situated on the South Coast of Río Paraná. In the last week of March 500 mm of rain was registered, almost duplicating the normal average for the whole month of March. In addition, the annual swelling of the Paraná and Salado rivers reaching between four to five metres in different coastal localities was exacerbated due to abundant rains in the south of Brazil surpassing Alert and Evacuation levels (five to seven metres). This phenomenon, combined with the strong rainfall has provoked internal draining canals to overflow, causing even greater damage.

Although there is no official governmental information on the impact of the emergency at this moment, it is estimated that more then 80,000 people were affected by the flooding. Some 56,000 people were evacuated from the flooded areas to more than 200 temporary shelters in different provinces. Within the two coastal provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Rios, 65 localities have been affected, of which 59 are based in the province of Santa Fe. Most of those evacuated are from the cities of Santa Fe, Rosario, Esperanza and Gualeguay.

Almost four million hectares and complete neighbourhoods were affected by the floods, several bridges were severely damaged and main roads were obstructed and/or inaccessible. The flooding has caused major losses in the harvest of soybean and alfalfa in the affected area. Several services such as gas and electricity were closed preventively and school classes were suspended in the cities of Santa Fe, Rosario and Gualeguay. By now, the main roads in Rosario and Santa Fe are accessible and gas and electricity services have been restored.

The senate of the Argentine nation declared an economic and social state of emergency for 180 days in the provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos. This decree allowed the Executive authority to allocate special funding to rebuilding infrastructure and extend funding to cover social plans.

Now, approximately two months after the flooding, temporary shelters have been closed as all the evacuated people have returned home.

Governmental response

The Government has established a Provincial Crisis Committee in the city of Santa Fe as well as Local Emergency Committees in order to improve coordination at local, provincial and national levels. At present, the main actions coordinated through this body are focused on evacuations, administrations of shelters, distribution of humanitarian aid, medical assistance in shelters (and monitoring the epidemiological situation) and re-establishment of basic services.

The Ministry of Social Development has sent 70 trucks and 3 Hercules flights carrying relief items to the affected areas. The Ministry of Health is focusing on the reinforcement of the sanitary control in the temporary shelters and the local Centres of Primary Health Attention (CAPS). Vaccination campaigns against Hepatitis A and tetanus and diseases like leptospirosis are being implemented. The Ministry of Health has sent more than 15 tons of powdered milk, 60,000 water-treatment tablets and 3,000 doses of vaccines, saline solution and medication to the affected areas.

To accompany the humanitarian aid sent to Santa Fe by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a special logistics team of White Helmets (Cascos Blancos) commission was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, another team of volunteers specialized in emergency shelter travelled to the province to provide psychosocial support to the affected population.

Social unrest has emerged as a result of the situation and some looting took place during the provision of humanitarian aid. As a result of this insecurity the Provincial Police and the Naval Prefecture increased their controls and patrolling actions and assisted with food distributions.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

- In Argentina: Pablo Bruno, Executive Advisor for Disaster Preparedness, Argentine Red Cross, email pbruno@cruzroja.org.ar, phone (54) (11) 4952-7200, fax (54) (11) 4952-7715.

- In Peru: Giorgio Ferrario, Head of Lima Regional Delegation; email giorgio.ferrario@ifrc.org, phone (511) 221-8151, fax (511) 4413607.

- In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Coordinator, Federation Pan American Disaster Response Unit, Panama; email stephen.mcandrew@ifrc.org, phone (507) 316-1001, fax (507) 316-1082

- In Geneva: Olaug Bergseth, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email olaug.bergseth@ifrc.org, phone (41 22) 730-4535, fax (41 22) 730-0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red DREF Bulletin no. MDRAR002; Update no. 12 Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org