Belize + 5 more

Central America: Floods Appeal No. MDR43004 Operation update


Glide No. FL-2008-000198-HND, NIC, CRI, SLV, BLZ, GTM

Period covered by this Ops Update: 24 October to 31 October 2008

Appeal target (current): 1,513,927 CHF (USD 1,388,924 or EUR 970,466).

Appeal coverage: 20%

Appeal history:

- This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on a preliminary basis on 24 October 2008 for 1,110,911 CHF (USD 1,015,550 or EUR 707,586); for nine months to assist 30,000 beneficiaries.

- CHF 271,000 (USD 247,715 or EUR 172,611) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 20 October 2008 to support the National Societies.

- CHF 119,300 (USD 109,049 or EUR 75,987) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 28 October to support the National Society of Belize in delivering immediate assistance to some 2,000 beneficiaries.

- With this operations update the budget is revised to 1,513,927 CHF (USD 1,388,924 or EUR 970,466) for nine months to benefit 32,000 beneficiaries

Summary: Since 16 October 2008, heavy rainfall has been affecting the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, with floods affecting more than 330,000 people in these countries. Houses and public infrastructure were damaged and crops were lost. This Operations Update no.1 reflects updated information on the emergency, relief activities provided and the addition of another affected country, Belize. Belize received DREF funds in order to jump start relief distributions. The National Societies of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua main focus is on supporting a timely and appropriate response, through the delivery of essential emergency relief items, and on completing damage and needs assessments for early recovery activities (shelter, water and sanitation and other sectors). Heavy rains continue in the region which may cause the situation to worsen.

The situation

The countries of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador have been affected by heavy rain due to tropical depression number 16 since 16 October 2008. Even though Costa Rica was hit hard by the rains, it was not included in the appeal, as response activities could be covered by a DREF operation currently being implemented in the country.

Tropical depression 16 drenched Belize with constant rain, overflowing several rivers affecting many villages in Cayo, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Belize and Corozal districts. Several of these districts (Orange Walk and Corozal districts) were affected by floods due to tropical storm Arthur on June 2008. Several sections of Cayo district have been declared disaster area. Approximately 24 communities have been severely impacted affecting some 38,000 people. Temporary emergency shelters were opened housing 400 evacuated people. Livelihoods in farming, commerce and tourism have been affected due to floods, but mainly due to interruptions in transportation. Many of the people affected are farmers whose main subsistence are their crops and due to the floods have lost their corn, rice, beans and papaya. They may thus require food assistance. The Emergency

Committees in the rest of the affected districts have been responding to the emergency by evacuating people and distributing emergency relief items. Damage and need assessments are still ongoing.

In Honduras, torrential rains across the entire territory caused flash floods and mudslides, damaging or destroying bridges and roads, and forcing people out of their homes. Besides floods reported along the country and the new floods risks generated by the programmed discharges in the main dam, a moderate front cold is affecting the Atlantic coast of Honduras. National Red alert has been declared by the Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) for the municipalities of Corquín and Cucuyagua in the Copán province, Belén, Gualcho in Ocotepeque and the province of Cortés.

The latest official figures show that 34 people have died, 16 are, missing and there are more than 279,972 people affected of which 42,749 people are living in temporary shelters. The number of affected houses is 12,429. The damage reports in the agricultural sector are also increasing with more than 1,660 hectares affected.

In Guatemala, heavy rains continue and the government has declared a state of emergency in seven additional municipalities (in El Peten and Quiche) in addition to the previous 20 municipalities in Peten, Izabal, Alta Verapaz and Quiche, along rivers and lowlands of the country. The yellow alert is maintained at the national level. To date, the floods have claimed the lives of four people. The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) reports that some 45,500 persons were affected, of which 12,800 were evacuated. Of these, some 6,800 are in temporary shelters. Some communities have been isolated; more than 5,000 houses and 114 roads were destroyed or damaged. In terms of infrastructural damage, loss of crops and damage to houses, the most affected department is El Peten; however, Alta Verapaz is reporting the highest number of affected persons (13,400), followed by Izabal (some 13,000 affected). Approximately 5,000 crops have been lost. CONRED is mobilizing its immediate response teams into various affected municipalities and is coordinating the response. The President of the country has allocated CHF 3,000,000 for the mayors and governors of the affected areas.

In Nicaragua, the intense rain left four people dead and 10,633 people affected in eight departments, including Chinandega, Madriz, Esteli, Leon, Managua, Granada and Rivas. 22 emergency shelters have been opened, housing approximately 1,500 people, while the rest are staying with friends and family. The department of Chinandega, which is 95 percent agricultural, has lost all its crops due to the floods. The members of the emergency centre (SINAPRED) are coordinating all emergency activities in their region.

Coordination and partnerships

The International Federation is regularly coordinating response activities with the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), Regional Representations for Central America and Mexico in Panama and the Caribbean in Trinidad and Tobago with its teams present in all the affected countries. The National Societies are also coordinating the relief activities in their respective countries with governmental and non-governmental organizations and Partner National Societies (PNS).

The Belize Red Cross Society (BRCS) is working closely with NEMO and Partner National Societies (PNS) present in the field (Norwegian Red Cross). The U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has made contact with the Belize Red Cross to offer support.

In Honduras, COPECO and the Municipal Emergency Coordination Commission (Comite de Desarollo Municipal -CODEM) have been coordinating relief actions with the Honduran Red Cross (HRC). PNS including the Italian Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross and Swiss Red Cross, as well as other humanitarian agencies present in the field, are cooperating with the HRC. Additionally, the governments of Italy, Spain and the United States of America have committed to cooperate. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs sent a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to the country. The International Federation and HRC are participating in the UN cooperation, ECHO partner and international NGO meetings. An International Federation shelter delegate is currently in the country participating in the shelter coordination group. The HRC and OCHA will carry out a programme thanks to the generous contribution supplied by USAID and OFDA.

In Guatemala, CONRED has been coordinating actions and evaluating the needs with the Guatemalan Red Cross (GRC), the Ministry of National Defense, the Armed forces Humanitarian Rescue Unit, the National Police, and municipal fire department among other governmental agencies. The Norwegian Red Cross has provided financial support for the mobilization of National Intervention Team (NIT) members. The UN

Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) is consulting with the government on UN assistance. The World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed 68.7 metric tons of food to 18,000 affected people for ten days.

The Nicaraguan Red Cross is working with PNS present in the country including Canadian Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, the Netherlands Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross. NRC is also working in coordination with the National Emergency Centre (Sistema Nacional para la Prevención, mitigación y atención de Desastres - SINAPRED) and other humanitarian agencies present in the field, including the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).