China

China: Flash Floods Appeal No. 17/99 Final report

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published

Attachments


This Final Report is intended for reporting on emergency appeals
The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 178 countries. For more information: www.ifrc.org

Launched on: 24 August 1999 for four months for CHF 10,200, 000 in Cash, Kind and Services to assist one million beneficiaries.

Appeal coverage: 67.99% A small remaining balance of CHF6,000 (USD 41641EUR 4127) will be allocated towards programmes in China.

Summary

Sustained rainfall from the middle of June until late September 1999 caused extensive and severe flooding along the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze river in China.

The International Federation and the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) responded by identifying target communities in the four worst affected provinces of Hunan, Hubei, Anhui and Jiangxi, and by launching a preliminary appeal on 4 August, followed by a full appeal issued on 24 August 1999. The appeal sought CHF 10.2 million in order to:

  • provide access to clean water and sanitation materials to more than 1 million people for a period of two months;
  • to provide food to approximately 250,000 people over a three month period; and,
  • to supply 20,000 winter coats and 20,000 quilts to those badly affected by the floods.

Although it was originally planned to achieve the proposed targets within four months, constraints and delays in the early stages of the operation resulted in the programme being extended into 2000. Despite these delays, the RCSC/Federation support provided vital assistance over the difficult winter period when temperatures were low and food sources were scarce.

No formal amendments were made to the budget, although some earmarked donor funds had to be reallocated, with donor authorisation, to other budget lines in order to meet the priority needs in the field.

Objectives, Achievements and Constraints

Objective 1: To ensure the rapid mobilisation of funds and goods to provide immediate assistance.

Achievements: To facilitate planning, management and monitoring of the programme, the RCSC/Federation divided the 1999 floods operation into phases under plans of action (PoAs) linked to the objectives of the operation, the immediate relief needs and funding availability. Six PoAs have been implemented.

The authorisation of each cash request (one cash request per PoA) by the Secretariat was dependent on the production by the delegation/RCSC of a financial project report on the utilisation of funds already transferred. This approach also eased the `tracking' of funds for each phase from the Federation Secretariat to the RCSC and then either to the branches or suppliers, depending on whether the purchases were being made centrally or locally. The four provinces involved in the 1999 floods operation opened separate bank accounts to receive these funds.

Each level of the system is responsible for reporting to the level above. A series of standard forms must be provided by each province (responsible for collecting information/forms from the prefecture/county levels), per commodity and per PoA, after distributions have taken place and these are the forwarded to the RCSC headquarters. In this way, the RCSC/Federation headquarters receive detailed structured information for the purposes of monitoring, management and reporting.

Constraints: The disbursement of funds from Beijing to the provinces was slow and this process needs to be further refined. However, due to the relationships developed between the provincial branches and the rice suppliers, once the provinces received notification of the transfer of funds for the purchase of rice, in some cases it was possible to start the procurement process before the funds reached the bank account. This speeded up procurement and distribution of rice to the Red Cross beneficiaries.

Objective 2: To target initially a total of one million beneficiaries in Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. The total homeless population of these four provinces is over 3.85 million.

Achievements: The joint RCSC/Federation assessment team used a set of detailed criteria to identify the worst affected provinces and the percentage of support that each province should receive. Given the scale of the disaster, the RCSC had concerns with the percentage allocations. Finally, it was agreed with the delegation that the percentages would be amended as per the table below.

Anhui
Hubei
Jiangxi
Hunan
Total
Percentage of assistance per province as per recommendation from the assessment team
35%
20%
25%
20%
Percentage of assistance agreed upon by the RCSC and the Delegation
30%
20%
30%
20%
Number of beneficiaries to be supported by the programme
76'397.00
50'569.00
75'167.00
50'624.00
252'757.00
Number of villages
53.00
73.00
46.00
37.00
209.00

Since flooding has occurred year after year in the central region, especially between 1995 and 1999, many communities have been affected on a regular basis and have been forced into a cycle of poverty: having lost their houses, possessions and income (land, livestock and harvests), they have started to build up debts, and are therefore ineligible for government loan schemes.

To enable the RCSC/International Federation to best utilise the funding available and to target the worst affected victims of the latest flooding, a survey was carried out by RCSC teams and Federation field delegates to identify the worst affected villages. Using the adjusted percentage of assistance for each province, a total of 209 target villages with a total beneficiary population of 252,757 were identified, as shown in the above table.

Constraints: Because of the scale of the disaster and the number of people affected, the Red Cross could only hope to meet the needs of a comparatively small number of people. Feedback from the provinces indicates that by identifying target villages the assistance indeed reached those badly affected, but also indicates that more assistance was needed.

The lack of a thorough understanding of the targeting system and the vulnerability coefficient at all levels of the Red Cross caused major frustration and made it difficult to interpret the system appropriately at field level.

The targeting system used in 1998 left much flexibility at the level of the provinces to target the most vulnerable within a village. However, it was difficult to `track' distributions of assistance and to identify Red Cross beneficiaries. The 1999 system of identifying target villages reduced flexibility; therefore, some relatively well off families received assistance, whereas vulnerable families in non targeted villages did not.

Objective 3: To provide food to more than 250,000 people for 90 days, with a ration equivalent to 1,815 Kcal per person per day, and an additional one month's ration for 10,000 people.

Achievements: The purchase and distribution of rice formed the major component of PoAs 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the operation. As the provincial branches were responsible for the purchase of rice for their own provinces, there are differences in costs per metric ton, as can be seen in the table below. A 15 kilogramme bag of rice represents a one month supplementary ration of rice for one person.

Anhui
Hubei
Hunan
Jian xi
Price per metric ton of rice (CNY)
1'820.00
2'600.00
2'540.00
2'400.00
Price per 15 kg bag (equivalent to a 1 month ration) CNY
27.30
39.00
38.00
36.00
Price per 15 kg bag (equivalent to a 1 month ration) USD
3.30
4.70
4.60
4.30

By the end of PoA 6, the RCSC/Federation had achieved 84% of its original objective of providing 250,000 beneficiaries with a three month supplementary food ration and a further 10,000 beneficiaries with a one month ration. In total, this represented the distribution of 760,000 bags of rice. A total of 9,589.35 mts of rice were distributed, as shown in the table below, representing 639,290 one month rations (1 x 15 kg bag).

RICE
PoA 1 tons
PoA 3 tons
PoA 4 tons
PoA 5 tons
PoA 6 tons
TOTAL
Hunan
78.00
313.00
532.00
336.03
428.64
1'687.67
Hubei
78.00
313.00
532.00
336.74
418.75
1'678.49
Anhui
110.00
671.00
1'141.00
720.72
898.47
3'541.19
Jiangxi
80.00
509.00
865.00
547.00
681.00
2'682.00
TOTAL
346.00
1'806.00
3'070.00
1'940.49
2'426.86
9'589.35

Feedback from monitoring visits to the field and discussions with beneficiaries and Red Cross staff indicated that the rice distributions met an essential need. Although there have been no food shortages (as was clearly indicated by the government), families who have been forced to borrow rice over the past few years have built up significant debts, making them ineligible for future loans. The Red Cross distributions of rice met the immediate needs of these people and provided a useful bridge through the winter period until spring. The purchase of rice directly from the provinces reduced potential transport and warehousing costs and led to a faster distribution process.

Constraints: A shortage of funding meant that the RCSC/Federation could not distribute the full three month supplementary food ration of rice to 250,000 beneficiaries and a further one month supply to 10,000 beneficiaries.

Objective 4: To give sanitation teams basic sanitation supplies for 250,000 families (or the equivalent of at least 1,000,000 beneficiaries) for two months.

Achievements: These materials were particularly useful for communities who had to evacuate their homes, enabling them to disinfect temporary shelters and latrines, to clean stagnant pools of water and remove debris.

The RCSC/Federation distributed 2,394 boxes of sanitation materials as part of PoAs 2, 3 and 5.The Federation estimates that around 196,600 treatments were provided, resulting in 78% of the original objective being met. Each treatment costs approximately CHF 0.859.

The materials were procured centrally by the RCSC headquarters and distributed to the four provinces as follows:

PoA 2
PoA 3
PoA 5
TOTAL
Hunan
159.00
238.00
397.00
Hubei
159.00
238.00
397.00
Anhui
278.00
359.00
405.00
1'042.00
Jiangxi
199.00
359.00
558.00
TOTAL
795.00
1'194.00
405.00
2'394.00
*Each box of sanitation materials contains 40 sachets of 500 grams each.

As Anhui was identified as being one of the worst affected provinces, 405 boxes of sanitation materials were allocated to six counties as part of PoA 5.

Constraints: The distribution of sanitation materials from disaster preparedness stocks built up after the 1998 floods provided a timely response to the 1999 floods. The 1999 supply, though late, arrived in time to supplement the dwindling stocks.

As the needs in the early phases of the operation had been met, funds earmarked for sanitation materials were reallocated for the purchase of food, which had been identified as a priority during the winter months; as a result this objective was not fully met.

Objective 5: To provide 1,000,000 people with safe water for 60 days by supplying 60 million water purification tablets (each tablet giving 10 litres of safe water)

Water purification materials are needed in the immediate aftermath of flooding as usual water sources may be contaminated. This was especially relevant in 1999 as thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and to seek shelter on dykes along the rivers, using water from the rivers for household purposes.

Achievements: Due to a favourable purchase price, the RCSC/Federation were able to exceed their original objective of providing 60 million purification tablets: approximately 85.3 million tablets, or "portions" (2,846 boxes) were provided.

Distributions of water purification powder during the operation formed part of PoAs 2, 3 and 4.

PoA 2
(No: of boxes)
PoA 3
(No: of boxes)
PoA 4
(No: of boxes)
Total
No: of boxes
Total
No: of portions
Hunan
112.00
160.00
297.00
569.00
17.07 m
Hubei
112.00
160.00
297.00
569.00
17.07 m
Anhui
192.00
242.00
445.00
879.00
26.37 m
Jiangxi
142.00
242.00
445.00
829.00
24.87 m
TOTAL
558.00
804.00
1'484.00
2'846.00
85.38 m
*Approx 30, 000 portions per box - each providing 10 litres of clean water

Constraints: Since the appeal was not launched immediately after the flooding, the distribution of water purification materials during the operation did not occur sufficiently promptly in a disaster response situation.

Despite the fact that the major savings allowed the RCSC/Federation to purchase more materials at lesser costs than estimated, there was a decreasing need for both water purification and sanitation materials as the floods programme progressed. Some donor funding which had been earmarked to this budget line was therefore reallocated.

Objective 6: To provide quilts to 20,000 victims

Achievements: The RCSC decided to purchase and distribute two types of quilts. Although natural cotton quilts are popular, they cost CNY 62 (or approximately CHF 12). Manmade quilts cost CNY 49 (approximately CHF 9) and are more durable and easier to wash and dry. A total of 15,228 manmade quilts and 12,420 natural cotton quilts were purchased under PoA 5, as detailed in the table below.

Man made quilts
Cotton Quilts
Total
Hunan
3'045.00
2'484.00
5'529.00
Hubei
3'045.00
2'484.00
5'529.00
Anhui
4'569.00
3'726.00
8'295.00
Jiangxi
4'569.00
3'726.00
8'295.00
TOTAL
15'228.00
12'420.00
27'648.00

As both winter coats and quilts were identified as a priority for the winter months, funds earmarked for water purification and sanitation materials were reallocated (with donor authorisation) to enable the RCSC/Federation to purchase additional quilts, thus exceeding the original objective.

Constraints: At the beginning of the operation, the quilts were allocated to a later PoA, in order to coincide with the winter months when they would be needed most. Because of various delays experienced in the early phases of the programme, the quilts were not distributed until February 2000.

Objective 7: To provide warm clothing to 20,000 flood victims.

Achievements: Funds reallocated from the purchase of water purification and sanitation materials enabled the RCSC/Federation to exceed the original objective and to purchase and distribute 29,604 long winter coats as part of PoA 5 and PoA 6. These were procured centrally by the RCSC headquarters and then transported to the provinces. Distribution of the coats for PoA 5 took place in the first quarter of the year 2000.

Feedback from the beneficiaries during field visits has shown that shorter coats would have been preferable as they allow for greater movement when carrying out agricultural activities.

PoA 5 winter coats
PoA 6 winter coats
Total
Hunan
3'604.00
2'318.00
5'922.00
Hubei
3'604.00
2'318.00
5'922.00
Anhui
5'406.00
3'474.00
8'880.00
Jiangxi
5'406.00
3'474.00
8'880.00
TOTAL
18'020.00
11'584.00
29'604.00

Constraints: Like the quilts, the coats were due to be distributed over the winter months, but due to delays in the early phases of the programme, distributions did not take place until early in the year 2000. There was a delay in transporting the winter coats to Anhui under the PoA 6 and, as a result, these have not been distributed and have been kept as disaster preparedness stock.

Objective 8: To replace part of the initial disaster preparedness stock used by the RCSC early in the emergency.

Although the appeal did not seek funding for the purchase of disaster preparedness stocks, thanks to generous support from a private donation (through the Canadian Red Cross), the Federation was able to finance the procurement of a total of 600 tents outside this appeal.

The specific objective of the project is to provide the RCSC with funding to facilitate procurement of stocks of tents for the two regional disaster preparedness centres (DPC) located in Shengyang (Liaoning Province) and Xian (Shaanxi Province). Each of these regional DPCs provides support to a number of bordering provinces, as shown in the chart below.

Shengyang
Xian
Shandong, Hebei, Shangxi, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning Hubei, Henan, Chongqing, Sechuan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia

During emergencies, the RCSC headquarters, which monitors the goods stored in these strategically located centres, is able to release stocks to the worst hit provinces. The strong management of these two regional DPCs was also taken into consideration by the RCSC leadership when the selection process took place.

The Federation has received a cost benefit analysis (CBA) from the relief department of the RCSC headquarters, detailing quotations received from four Beijing based manufacturers/suppliers of PVC tents. On this basis, the RCSC would be able to purchase a total of 600 tents.

Taking into account the risk of flooding in the specific provinces covered by the regional DPCs, the tents will be allocated as follows: Shengyang: 250; Xian: 350.

Objective 9: To initiate the development of the new RCSC financial reporting system.

This was identified as a priority following the 1998 floods operation, given the large sums of money being transferred directly to the RCSC for relief operations.

Achievements: A finance development delegate spent eight months in China during 1999, working with the RCSC to further develop and enhance the RCSC financial systems and the financial reporting system.

In co-operation with the finance department of the RCSC, two workshops (covering 29 provinces, including the four covered in the 1999 floods operation) were held, a quarterly financial reporting system and a standard reporting format at provincial branch level were developed and are now being used. In addition, a comprehensive proposal for a three-year finance development project was drawn up.

Constraints: The project is still in the early stages, as it took a considerable amount of time to identify a project manager with the relevant technical, financial and Mandarin language skills.

Conclusion

Evaluation

As part of the ongoing learning process of the RCSC and the Federation, a review of the 1999 China Floods operation and an evaluation of the programme was carried out in March 2000 and a full report complete with findings and recommendations was prepared.

Timeframe

The four-month time frame for the 1999 China Floods operation was clearly too ambitious, given the scope of the objectives set out in the appeal. This was further complicated by unforeseen compulsory state training which occurred at a key stage in the operation and occupied senior RCSC staff for 2.5 days a week between November and January.

Building up Disaster Preparedness stocks

The importance of building up disaster preparedness stocks throughout the country was further emphasised when disaster preparedness stocks already in place following the 1998 floods enabled the RCSC/International Federation to respond immediately after the 1999 flooding in order to bridge the gap before supplies from the 1999 floods operation were available.

Reporting

A considerable amount of time was spent with the RCSC finance department to develop a financial quarterly reporting form which takes into consideration Chinese accounting practices and law, whilst at the same time providing the accountability, transparency and information that is required by the Federation and donors.

Now that these systems are understood and agreed upon by the RCSC and the Provinces, it would greatly ease the reporting burden on the delegation and the RCSC if there could be a more co-ordinated approach towards donor reporting or streamlining of reporting criteria.

Impact

Within the scope and objectives of the appeal, the project activities assisted to a significant extent, in the stabilisation of those affected by the 1999 floods.

Whilst government relocation and rehabilitation activities were carried out, some of the affected population spent the winter months in tented accommodation. The distribution of Red Cross relief items such as food, quilts and clothing provided much needed support and contributed to the reduction of vulnerability in these affected populations. In addition, this support bridged the period between winter and spring, when temperatures are low and food resources scarce.

Coordination

The International Federation was the only international humanitarian organisation to launch an emergency appeal to seek support for those affected by the floods. Consequently, there were no formal coordination or information sharing sessions involving UN agencies or other NGOs. However, the delegation maintained contact with MSF, Save the Children, Handicap International and relevant UN agencies.

At a national level, support for flood affected victims was also received from the Hong Kong Red Cross and other branches of the RCSC. In future, greater co-ordination of support channelled through the Red Cross system will be encouraged both at headquarters level and in the provinces to ensure that there is no duplication.

The Federation promotes coordination with other organisations in order to maximise the overall impact of relief assistance available.

For further details please contact: Aurelia Balpe,Phone : 41 22 730 43 52; Fax: 41 22 733 03 95; email: balpe@ifrc.org

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. The procurement for this operation was carried out in full compliance and conformity with the Federation's standard for international and local procurement.

For support to or for further information concerning Federation operations in China, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org/where/asiapac.asp

This operation sought to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or long-term capacity building will require additional support, and these programmes are outlined on the Federation's website.

John Horekens
Director
External Relations Division

Simon Missiri
Head
Asia And Pacific Department

(pdf* format)