Argentina: Floods in Santa Fé Province Appeal No. 10/03 Operations Update No. 3


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Appeal No. 10/03 ; Operations Update no. 3

Appeal launched on 6 May 2003 for CHF 607,000 for three months for 8,000 beneficiaries. The operation has been extended until 31 October given the need to distribute additional relief goods. Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 50,000 Period covered: 20 May -- 20 July 2003

In Brief

Appeal coverage: 125.8%
Outstanding needs: None
Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: 01.51/2003 South America

Operational Summary: The emergency phase of the floods operation has been completed and currently only 2,600 people remain in evacuation centres. An assessment carried out in June resulted in the revision of the Argentine Red Cross (ARC) plan of action to assist those affected by the floods. Beneficiaries selected are those housed in eight evacuation centres and families from the neighbourhood of Monte Vera, north of the city of Santa Fé and one of the communities worst affected by the floods. Adjustments were made to the relief assistance required and new items identified including stoves and furniture, given that returnee families lost their property in the flood waters. The time-frame of the operation has been extended until 31 October in order that the additional components of the plan of action may be implemented. Distributions of personal hygiene sets for women and family hygiene packs donated by UNICEF are ongoing. The ARC vaccination and prevention campaign in support of the Ministry of Health was completed and 5,000 persons received vaccinations. Behaviour change in the evacuation centres has been secured through awareness-campaigns and dialogue with the evacuees. Effective coordination with bilateral Red Cross partners and external organizations has proved key to the success of the flood response operation.

Operational developments

Although there is no longer an emergency situation in Santa Fé, it is estimated that it will take years of sustained reconstruction and rehabilitation work in order that the conditions in the region return to those of the pre-disaster phase.

Water has now drained away both in the city and its surroundings, and public services such as schools, resumed at the beginning of June. The population in evacuation centres has been reduced from over 50,000 to a current 2,600 in 34 centres. Eight of these centres hold the majority of beneficiaries and are assisted by the Argentine Red Cross.

People still living in the centres are those who lost their homes and for whom the local authorities are planning new residential areas in safe zones. Security conditions have improved and although there are a number of protests by evacuees, the previous levels of tension have been reduced.

Experts forecast that climate conditions will not pose problems, although temperatures have fallen given that it is the winter season. Health problems among the population have subsided and are now within the seasonal average for the region, both in terms of persons affected and nature of disease. Concern at present is more related to diseases induced by the climate, such as bronchitis, rather than to possible epidemics.

The collection of garbage, which created serious problems for public health, has much improved, and the situation is now under control. Significant progress has also been made in hygiene and sanitation as evacuees have been trained and are succeeding in keeping the centres tidy.

Despite the fact that water subsided from all the affected areas, it is estimated that it will take much time to solve problems related to sectors such as public infrastructure, agriculture and industry. A study drafted by the UNDP for the provincial government estimates that damage and losses produced by the floods amount to Argentine Pesos (ARP) 2,879 millions, approximately USD 1,000 million.

This damage can be summarized, as follows:

  • Social infrastructure: housing, health system, education and sports;
  • Infrastructure: drinking water, sewer systems, electricity, transportation and telecommunications;
  • Production: agriculture and cattle raising, industry and trade;
  • The environment.

According to the document, reconstruction and rehabilitation activities will need to include financial assistance to the affected population and services, an effective early warning system and awareness campaigns in disaster prevention, while further development plans should include risk management and planning.

Provincial authorities confirmed that around 15,000 persons are in need of a new house and a fifth of the 25,000 damaged houses will have to be rebuilt; 2,500 of these houses were totally destroyed given their vicinity to the river and will be rebuilt in safer areas.

The Argentine Army is running a door to door service in order to estimate damage and to deliver food items, clothes and cleaning sets to returnees, while local authorities are conducting a survey in the affected areas in order to provide modest financial assistance to house owners.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

Around 5,000 persons:320 families from eight evacuation centres and 633 from the neighbourhood of Monte Vera were identified during the month of June as beneficiaries of ARC relief assistance. The needs of these beneficiaries, both at the centres and community level, resulted in an adjustment in the plan of action: new items were identified, such as stoves for evacuees and furniture for inhabitants of Monte Vera.

The vaccination and prophylaxis campaign in support of Ministry of Health's activities to prevent the spread of leptospirosis has been concluded, and, at present, volunteers' main duties include surveys and information sessions in the centres and neighbourhoods, distribution of relief items and different kits, and psychological support to evacuees.

Cataloguing and distribution of public donations and relief items included into the appeal continue according to the Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) SUMA system.

As of 15 July, the ARC had delivered a total of 125 trucks of relief goods provided by businesses, the Army and Navy and private individuals, with a total of 2,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including food and non food items.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Society

The two branches of the ARC which were partially or totally flooded, Santa Fé and San Cristóbal, resumed regular activities in the month of June.

Since the outset of the operation, more than 1,000 ARC volunteers, lifeguards and nurses from over 20 ARC branches around the country gathered in Santa Fé. More than 7,000 volunteers were mobilized in 64 branches in order to collect, classify and send donated items, almost 1,200 of whom worked in the ARC central warehouse in Buenos Aires. With the close of the emergency phase, the number of volunteers involved in relief and assistance operations in Santa Fé has been reduced from an average of 50 to an average of 20 per day.

The ARC national headquarters in Buenos Aires is coordinating the operation with the branch of Santa Fé, with the Federation's sub regional office providing support to the operation.

Objectives, activities and results

A readjustment of the plan of action was approved in mid June in order to better respond to beneficiaries' needs. ARC activities are now focusing on the most vulnerable sectors of the population: people who had to remain in evacuation centres because their homes were destroyed and returnees from rural communities who lost property, crops and cattle. Furniture and kitchen sets were added to the new list of items required, following a needs assessment carried out together with beneficiaries. In order to complete this new part of the plan of action, it will be necessary to extend the operation to the end of October 2003.

The assistance is provided according to SPHERE guidelines, and includes food, cleaning and hygiene sets within the appeal as well as public and private donations.

The operation is also providing beneficiaries in evacuees centres with psycho-social support and aims to offer community disaster preparedness in the event of future disasters.

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