Bolivia: Floods DREF Operation No. MDRBO002 Final Report


Glide No. FL-2007-000012-BOL

Period covered by this Final Report: 15 February - 15 August, 2007;

Appeal target (current): CHF 904,100 (USD 741,065, EUR 561,552);

Final Appeal coverage: 107%

Final financial report will be published in due course.

Appeal history:

-  This appeal was issued on 15 February 2007 for CHF 605,450 (USD 484,360 or EUR 373,735) for 6 months to reach 7,188 families (35,940 beneficiaries)

-  Appeal revised on 5 March 2007 to CHF 904,100 (USD 741,065, EUR 561,552) to reach 10,000 families (50,000 beneficiaries)

-  CHF 120,000 was initially allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Bolivian Red Cross in responding by delivering assistance.

Summary: The 2007 rainy season in Bolivia proved to be one of the worst in 25 years, causing major floods, landslides and cold temperatures across the country. Thousands of families were affected by the floods, which destroyed homes and crops. In addition to the loss of thousands of hectares of crops, serious health problems emerged amongst affected communities.

From the onset of the emergency the Bolivian Red Cross (BRC), through its nine departmental branches across the country, responded immediately to affected families with first aid, collection of relief items, transportation of patients, and evacuation of families. The Federation activated response mechanisms and released DREF funds for immediate support to the National Society.

After assessments were carried out, the BRC developed a Plan of Action to assist 10,019 families in the departments of Beni, Cochabamba and Potosi and an international emergency appeal was launched. The main actions carried out within the operation included the distribution of food parcels, distribution of toolkits for agricultural rehabilitation, health promotion and prevention actions, development of the BRC's capacities in needs assessments and improvement of the BRC telecommunications system. The Pan

American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) and the Regional Representation in Lima provided ongoing support to the BRC throughout the operation.

The operation was carried out successfully, fulfilling all objectives laid out. The BRC operation responded to the most immediate needs of the families affected through the provision of food parcels and also contributed to the rehabilitation of agricultural activities, which constitutes the main income for most. The ongoing health needs of the affected communities were addressed through health promotion actions. BRC response capacities were strengthened and the BRC telecommunications system was improved.

At the close of the operation, an external evaluation was carried out highlighting lessons learned for future BRC operations. An important factor in the success of the operation was the effective coordination held by the BRC with actors involved in the response from government bodies to humanitarian agencies and importantly local community organisations. This enabled complementary actions to be carried out in a sector by sector basis and for the full implementation of each objective within the appeal.

Challenges included logistical difficulties reaching communities isolated by flood waters and receding flood waters. This meant that distributions in Beni, for example, took longer than expected but with effective coordination they took place through boat trips over a period of several days.

Contributions to the Appeal included those from American Red Cross, Canadian government through the Canadian Red Cross, Italian Government, Japanese Red Cross, Monaco Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Swedish Red Cross, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation through Swiss Red Cross, Kraft Foods, other private donors from the United States and the initial contribution from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).

Bilateral contributions made directly to the BRC's Plan of Action include those from the Chinese Government, Colombian Red Cross Society, German Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross and The World Wildlife Fund (WWF). These direct contributions were pivotal for the completion of activities included in the Bolvian Red Cross' Plan of Action, and are not reflected in the overall budget presented in the attached financial report.

The situation

In December 2006, the rainy season began as it does every year in Bolivia, however by February and March 2007 the rains had saturated the ground, overflowed rivers, and caused major floods and landslides affecting thousands of families in all nine departments of the country. The rainy season produced the worst floods in 25 years, affecting 75,897 families, killing 56 people and leaving four people disappeared.

The rains caused diverse results, from floods and landslides in the low-lying departments of Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Tarija, Santa Cruz and Beni to hail and extreme cold weather in the highland departments of La Paz, Oruro and Potosí

While Bolivia is a country with high levels of poverty and inequity, it also faces a number of risks caused by natural climatic phenomenon. High levels of vulnerability mean that disasters, such as this rainy season, have a serious impact on people's lives. The communities affected by this emergency live in geographically diverse areas yet depend on the whole on agriculture as a way of life, producing a variety of crops such as maize soy, quinoa, rice, sugar cane, beans and potatoes. Over 70,000 hectares of crops were flooded and 20,000 small agriculture producing families were affected, seriously affecting sources of food and income.

The gradual overflow of rivers and flooding of land in the department of Beni caused the river to reach a width of 20km in some places and two metres deep. As one of the worst departments hit by the floods, a quarter of the population of 430,000 people in Beni was estimated to have been affected.

Highways and roads were blocked by flood waters and landslides. Access to affected areas and communities was seriously limited by road, and where possible boats were used. While a number of communities were evacuated, others were cut off by the flood waters and some by receding waters making access difficult, previously possible by boat. Some communities in the departments of Beni and Santa Cruz who found temporary shelter in schools returned home as flood waters receded.

The health situation of people affected by the floods was a major concern as illnesses such as acute respiratory diseases, skin infections, and diarrhoea were registered. Another health concern during the emergency was an increase of cases of dengue fever, which had reached 2,450. The Bolivian government launched a campaign to prevent the spread of water- and sanitation-related diseases. The campaign included mosquito fumigation, the elimination of stagnant water and mosquito breeding grounds, and rodent elimination. The government also launched a vaccination campaign against yellow fever, mainly in the Los Valles and el Oriente regions.

The Bolivian government declared a national emergency and decided that the Joint Transitional Command of the Armed Forces (Comando Unico Transitorio) would be responsible for response operations to the floods. The Bolivian Red Cross (BRC) operation was not affected by this decision as the principle of independence was respected by the government. The Bolivian Civil Defence and the Emergency Response Centres (Centros de Operaciones de Emergencia - COE) operated at the national, departmental and municipal levels to respond to the emergency.

Contact information

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

-  In Bolivia: Dr. Abel Peña y Lillo, President, Bolivian Red Cross, e-mail, phone (5912) 220 2934/ 212 9225 fax (5912) 235 9102

-  In Peru: Giorgio Ferrario, Representative of the Regional representation Office for South America, Lima; e-mail, phone (511) 221-8151, fax (511) 441-3607

-  In Panama: Maria Alcazar, Resource Mobilization Coordinator, Americas Zone; email; phone (507) 380 0250; fax (507) 317 1304.

-  In Geneva: Pablo Medina, Operations Coordinator for the Americas, email, phone (41) 22 730 4381; (41) 22 733 0395.