Argentina: Floods - Emergency Appeal Operations Update no. 1 (MDRAR010)


Summary: Since December 2015, the country has been affected by El Niño phenomenon. Updated forecasts by the Climate and Society International Research Institute for January to March 2016 predict more rains at higherthan-normal levels in areas already affected by flooding. Coastal areas have been highly compromised by heavy rains that have ravaged the area, causing an increase in the levels of the Paraná, Paraguay and Uruguay Rivers and damage in the surrounding provinces of Formosa, Chaco, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Tucumán, Misiones, Córdoba, Buenos Aires, Salta, Mendoza, San Luis and San Juan. As a result, cities and ports’ authorities have issued alerts and ordered evacuations. At the peak of the flooding in late December 2015, nearly 15,000 people were evacuated in the most affected provinces. Coastal provinces declared a state of emergency covering issues of water, road , health and social issues to enable timely access to benefits for these types of national disasters. A DREF operation was launched on 8 January 2016 for 199,829 Swiss francs to provide immediate support in the cities of Concordia and Concepcion del Uruguay for ARC assessment and response efforts. This DREF operation was modified to become an Appeal on 22 January 2016 with a budget of 1,006,132 Swiss francs, extending its area of action to the city of Colon, in Entre Ríos.

Results of Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis

Since the first moment of the emergency, the Argentine Red Cross through its branches in the affected areas conducted damage assessments and needs analysis (DANA). The preliminary results of this combined DANA were used as the basis for the emergency plan of action. During the first six weeks of this operation, further assessments were conducted for a deeper understanding of the humanitarian needs. This section reports on the results of these assessments in combination with information from other institutions monitoring the emergency situation.

As of January, 76,133 people were reported to be affected in 14 Argentine provinces. The Argentine coast continues to be the most affected region. This region is still under a water, social and health emergency, in addition to the increase in dengue cases reported. Storms expected in February, March and April may further complicate the current situation in cities or ports near the Paraná, Paraguay, Gualeguay and Uruguay Rivers in the provinces of Corrientes, Chaco, Santa Fe, Entre Rios, Formosa and Buenos Aires. The changes in Paraná, Uruguay and Paraguay river levels with respect to evacuation levels have varied several times during this season. According to information from the Sea and Atmosphere Research Centre (CIMA) using monitoring by the Argentine Naval Prefecture, as of 15 February, of the 21 ports along the Paraná, Delta Paraná, Paraguay, Gualeguay, and Uruguay Rivers, 2 are in yellow alert (at the warning but not evacuation level) and the remaining are in orange alert.

The Argentine Red Cross's National Emergency and Disaster Response Department has gone from a nationwide red alert (highest national alert) to a yellow alert for floods and high river levels, yet the National Society maintains a red alert for dengue, chikungunya and zika. As of 16 February, the Ministry of Health had reported a total of 4,516 cases of dengue, 9 cases of chikungunya, and 10 cases of zika, with one death reported due to dengue fever. The ARC is conducting assessments in north-eastern Argentina where the most affected provinces are located: Formosa (300 cases), Corrientes (146 cases), Santa Fe (130 cases), and Entre Ríos (6 cases). The province of Buenos Aires has 158 reported cases. There are nine reported cases of chikungunya: four in city of Buenos Aires, three in Salta, and one each in Entre Ríos and Córdoba. As for zika, ten cases had been reported up to 16 February: five in the city of Buenos Aires, and one each in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, San Luis, Córdoba and Santa Fe.

Through joint efforts by various branches, the Argentine Red Cross is conducting a widespread campaign to raise awareness and educate people regarding dengue, chikungunya, zika, in addition to clean-up of yards, squares, and other places which could become breeding sites for mosquito larvae. Volunteers from the ARC branches in Santa Fe, Corrientes, Chaco, Formosa, Entre Ríos, and Buenos Aires (areas most affected by the flooding) are working daily and assisting local hospitals through home visits to monitor febrile cases and disseminate information and brochures, setting up posts on coastal boardwalks and disseminating the "No mosquitoes, no dengue" campaign over social networks. ARC national headquarters has arranged training for volunteers on this issue, in addition to continuous reporting and data tracking. This campaign to date has reached more than 500 families, especially in north-eastern regions (including Formosa, Entre Rios, Concordia and Santa Fe), through lectures and brochures. In light of this International Appeal, the Community-Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) workshops also have a component on zika, dengue and chikungunya awareness and prevention.

ARC ranches in provinces under alert and emergency have been conducting activities to prevent and reduce the proliferation of dengue cases through dissemination and training to the population.

The National Society has conducted various larvicide campaigns in the past, especially during the 2009 dengue outbreak. The Argentine Red Cross's Health Department is assessing the possibilities and feasibility of again doing this since the former obtained positive results.