Colombia

ACAPS Briefing Note: Colombia: Floods in the department of La Guajira (19 November 2021)

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CRISIS IMPACT OVERVIEW

• The department of La Guajira is located in the extreme north of Colombia, on the Colombian Caribbean Coast. It has two rainy seasons during the year– one between April–May and the other between September–November (IDEAM 2010). With a landscape of majorly clay loam soil, La Guajira is a department where increased rainfall frequently leads to flooding.
In fact, more than half of the natural disasters affecting the department are floods (Government of La Guajira 2012).

• According to forecasts by the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, rainfall in La Guajira in November 2021 will be 40–60% higher than the historical average (El Colombiano 04/10/2021). Towards the end of September 2021, flooding caused by rains in La Guajira, specifically in the municipalities of Dibulla, Maicao,
Manaure, Riohacha, and Uribia, affected at least 800 families or approximately 2,800 people (El Tiempo 01/09/2021). In late October, rains caused several streams to overflow, flooding the municipalities of Distracción and Fonseca (LGH 30/10/2021). Affected people often report shelter, food, and WASH needs.

• During heavy rainy seasons between 1980–2011, the most affected municipalities were Dibulla, Hatonuevo, Maicao, and Riohacha in terms of the number of households affected (between 2,000–12,000) and Fonseca, Manaure, and Uribia in terms of the number of people affected (between 12,000–14,000) (Government of La Guajira 2012). The flood with the greatest impact in terms of the number of people affected in the last 40 years took place between 2010–2011, when rainfall levels went up to 70% above the historical average (BID and CEPAL 01/2013; IGAC, IDEAM, and DANE 04/03/2011).