Argentina: Salta Floods - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) (MDRAR015)

Description of the disaster

Since 31 January 2018, severe storms have dropped more than 200mm of rain ON 20,000 km2 in northern Salta Province in northwestern Argentina; this situation, coupled with rainfall in the upper basin of the Bermejo and Pilcomayo Rivers (Paraguay/Bolivia border) caused a rise in water levels which were already high from discharges from the Chimeo Dam in Villamontes, Bolivia due to a crack to its structure that caused flooding in areas along the banks of the Pilcomayo River in Salta; as a result, water levels have far exceeded historical levels, triggering an alert and corresponding evacuation of affected communities.

Based on initial assessments more than 17,000 people have been affected from which 2,897 had to be evacuated and more than 7,000 relocated and self-evacuated, in addition to one hundred people left isolated and without any means of communication.

Significant damages have been initially reported in more than 50 towns in four departments in northern Salta Province, including rural and urban flooding, landslides and so forth; however, the most significant impact was reported in the Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) Argentina: Salta Floods

3 February 2018: Communities isolated by the flooding and total damage in Santa Victoria Este. Source: Argentine Red Cross municipality of Santa Victoria Este and in General San Martin Department (Campo Duran, Aguaray, Tartagal), prompting the establishment of evacuation centres to house families evacuated from Santa Victoria Este and its surrounding areas.

Overflows from the Pilcomayo River have flooded entire areas, especially in the indigenous communities of Wichi, Chorote and Toba. According to the 2010 Census, 6.4 per cent (79,204 people) of the population in Salta province is indigenous and coexist with the affected urbanized communities.

Although Argentina is one of the countries with the highest rate of human development (very high), there is a serious marginalization of indigenous peoples especially in aspects such as health, education and the rights of women and girls; consequently, the ARC needs to consider multiculturalism when planning its response , especially in matters related to risk perception, family dynamics, livelihoods, health practices, hygiene habits, protection, violence (including stigma and discrimination) and traditional practices for decision making and conflict resolution between indigenous communities and non-indigenous communities.