Colombia

Colombia: Assistance to flood affected in Girón LACO-52

Format
Appeal
Source
Posted
Originally published

Attachments

Appeal Target: US$ 211,323

Geneva, 15 March 2005

Dear Colleagues:

Torrential rains lashed areas in Colombia between 8 and 14 February 2004, the north-east of the country being the worst affected region. There were major landslides, rivers burst their banks and the consequent flooding affected the population in these high risk areas. This period of heavy rain particularly affected numerous neighbourhoods and settlements in Girón in the Department of Santander.

The vulnerable and displaced communities that are located along the banks of the rivers Frío and Oro, which flow through the municipality, have been most affected by this emergency. According to figures provided by the Government Secretary for the Department, the interim death toll stood at 30, 40 people had disappeared and 28 thousand had been rendered homeless. The Minister for the Environment, Housing and Regional Development estimates that between five and six thousand homes have been affected by this bad weather. The victims are currently living in cambuches (shelters built from material such as tins, plastic and cardboard), churches, schools and public places in the city.

ACT member in Colombia the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) has a Mission and Development office in this area. Since the beginning of the crisis they have been providing support to the affected population. In co-ordination with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF/DWS) they requested immediate support from the ACT Alliance and a Rapid Response of U$40,468 was sent by the ACT CO. With this appeal they are proposing to assist the affected population through:

  • Food and non food relief items

  • Housing

  • Psychosocial assistance

  • Risk management training

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.

Project Completion Date: 31 December 2005

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

US$ Total Appeal Target(s) $ 211,323
Less: Pledges/Contr. Recd.
Balance Requested from ACT Alliance $ 211,323

Please kindly send your contributions to either of the following ACT bank accounts:

US dollar
Account Number - 240-432629.60A
IBAN No: CH46 0024 0240 4326 2960A

Euro
Euro Bank Account Number - 240-432629.50Z
IBAN No: CH84 0024 0240 4326 2950Z

Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
UBS AG 8, rue du Rhône P.O. Box 2600 1211 Geneva 4, SWITZERLAND
Swift address: UBSW CHZH12A

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address jkg@act-intl.org) of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, White Rakuba (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055)

ACT Program Officer, Elsa Moreno, (phone +41 22 791 6420 or mobile phone +41 79 608 8133)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org

White Rakuba Director, ACT Co-ordinating Office

I. REQUESTING ACT MEMBER INFORMATION

The Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service and The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia/Department of Mission and Development

IMPLEMENTING ACT MEMBER & PARTNER INFORMATION

ACT members The Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO), as members of the ACT Network in Colombia, have joined together to formulate and implement this proposal. None of the other ACT members in Colombia has a presence in the area or are able to provide technical or economic support to the present proposal.

LWF - Department for World Service serves as an international Lutheran Agency with the responsibility for conducting and administering emergency relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and development programs with particular reference to refugees, emergency situations and other areas of endemic need, as well as to address the root causes of social and economic injustice. Such services are global in scope and are rendered together with or on behalf of local, national and/or international partners for the benefit of people in need irrespective of race, sex, creed, nationality or political conviction. The DWS program in El Salvador/Guatemala has comprehensive experience in emergency, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. It has carried out emergency /rehabilitation/ reconstruction programs in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras over the last years. All activities and projects included elements of risk management, human rights and community participation to lay the foundation for sustainable development.

Implementing Partner

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) was founded in 1958 and joined the LWF in 1966. IELCO's Social Development Office was established in 1982, with a mission to promote integral development projects for families and marginalised communities to assist them in becoming self-reliant.

The main objective of the Development Office is to promote, advise and execute integral development projects in both rural and urban communities, in order to improve their social, economic, cultural and spiritual level as well as foster self-reliance and community commitment. IELCO has also provided emergency assistance to victims of earthquakes (1983 - 1985 - 1999), floods (1985 - 1987 - 1994 - 2000) and other humanitarian activities (2002-2003-2005). IELCO has been working with internally displaced people since 1996. Its work is limited as funds are not always available. Co-operation agreements have been signed with both NGOs and other Government agencies working with the displaced to complement activities. The Department of Mission and Development has its own office and team in the region.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMERGENCY SITUATION

Between 8 and 14 February 2004 it rained extremely heavily in Colombia, the north-east of the country being the worst affected region. There were major landslides, rivers burst their banks and the consequent flooding has affected the population that usually inhabits these high risk areas. This period of heavy rain particularly affected numerous neighbourhoods and settlements in Girón in the Department of Santander. There is a tremendous need here due to the insufficient reactions of the local municipal council which has no organized contingency plan or emergency service capable of dealing with major emergencies. The vulnerable and forcibly displaced communities that are located along the banks of the rivers Frío and Oro, which flow through the municipality, have been most affected by this emergency. According to figures provided by the Government Secretary for the Department, the interim death toll stood at 30, 40 people had disappeared and 28 thousand had been left homeless. The Minister for the Environment, Housing and Regional Development estimates that between five and six thousand homes have been affected by this inclement weather. The victims are currently living in cambuches (shelters built from material such as tins, plastic and cardboard), churches, schools and public places in the city. On 2 March this year an RRF was approved to the value of USD$ 40,648.

A climatic event can have catastrophic effects on large sectors of the population and contributes towards the destruction of the social fabric, which is understood as the internal dynamics of the community, built through relationships and the roles and functions that each member of the community assumes. These make it possible to build a sense of community and enable the community to seek alternative solutions to the problems that confront it. As a result of such events there is a need to revitalise the community and to strengthen the formation of support networks which will generate mechanisms that improve the quality of life and community development.

Girón has a population of around 80,000 and is located in the Department of Santander. The economy is based largely on agriculture, cattle farming, mining and commerce. It has a number of poor and underprivileged neighbourhoods such as the settlements of displaced and other vulnerable people.

IELCO has a local Mission and Development office and a church in the city of Bucaramanga that is 15 minutes from the municipality of Girón. The Church of the Divine Redeemer has had a presence in Girón for over ten years, in particular in La Independencia settlement, with projects that provide accompaniment of an integrated nature using its own resources or those of the Development Department. This church also had a presence in the settlement of Convivir for seven years. These two areas have been seriously affected by the heavy rains and flooding.

These communities were already living in conditions of extreme poverty with a lack of basic services and overcrowded living conditions which have been aggravated by the emergency. The families that lost their homes now live in makeshift shelters, they have also lost all their belongings and have no food. Some improvised community soup kitchens have been set up, two of these with some support from IELCO.

The mayor El Frente newspaper, 6-12 March 2005, page 1 reported that "the lack of housing continues to be the most serious cause of social conflict". This is due to the fact that the urban structure of the municipality has been completely altered by the flooding and the city has been put at risk due to the loss of the containing walls of the two rivers that flow through it. The homeless wander around the city and neighbouring municipalities in search of food for their children. Numerous families have gained forced entry to private land and set up cambuches there, which is likely to lead to future conflict with other social sectors and the police.

Since 12 February IELCO has been providing accompaniment to these communities through the professional team of the national development office, the local office in Bucaramanga and volunteers from local churches in the area. Essential items such as food, clothing and some household items, have been obtained and delivered. At the height of the emergency the community soup kitchen in La Independencia provided lunch and breakfast for 308 people. Since 28 February the soup kitchen has continued to provide meals for 160 children.

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