Colombia: Floods DREF Operation No. MDRCO002 Final Report

Situation Report
Originally published


The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation'sdisaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

Summary: CHF 172,000 was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 17 August, 2007 to respond to the needs of this operation.

This operation was implemented in 3 months, and was completed by 17 November 2007; a DREF Bulletin Final Report (narrative and financial) is now available, three months after the end of the operation (by 17 February, 2008).

Background: Since March 2007, Colombia experienced a heavy rainy season, creating floods and landslides in several departments throughout the country. Some 1,504,144 people were affected and 117 deaths, 29 missing and infrastructural damages were registered. This DREF operation assisted 1,000 families in the municipalities of Cotorra, Lorica, Momil, Purisima and San Bernardo del Viento in Córdoba with food and non-food relief items.

The situation

Vast areas of Colombia were flooded after unusually heavy rains started in March 2007. The phenomena affected 28 of the country's 32 departments left 117 dead, 173 injured and 29 missing, and affected some 1,504,144 people (333,337 families), in addition to 4,225 destroyed and 31,419 damaged houses.

The most affected zones by the effects of the 2007 winter season were the Atlantic region (Sucre, Córdoba, Guajira, Magdalena, Atlántico, Bolivar and Antioquia) and the Pacific region of Chocó. The water levels of several rivers caused floods in 525 municipalities of 29 departments in the country. Bolivar, Magdalena, Córdoba, Sucre and Chocó were most severely damaged.

The government through the Ministry of the Interior and Justice declared a departmental disaster in the departments of Sucre, Córdoba and Antioquia. In addition, a red alert was issued by the government of Córdoba for the evacuation of people living in the watersheds, due to the overflowing of the Sinú and San Jorge rivers. 149,513 people in 16 departments were affected.

The National System for Prevention and Disaster (Sistema Nacional de Prevencion y Atencion de Desastres) of the Social Protection Ministry coordinated actions for water and sanitation, humanitarian assistance such as provision of food and non food items, logistics and transportation of relief assistance. The Ministries of Agriculture, Transportation and Mines and Energy provided mitigation, rehabilitation, relocation and recuperation activities. Initially, food parcels, drinking water, basic sanitation activities, basic hygiene kits, plastic sheets, mattresses and hammocks were distributed to meet early needs. Shelters were opened as well.

3,830 people were attended by the five mobile health units. These units provided first aid care and distributed medicines, promoted health awareness, prevention of water-borne diseases and supplied vaccinations. Dental and psychosocial activities were also carried out, focusing on children and the most vulnerable. Some of these affected people were in temporary shelters such as schools, colleges and warehouses in not flooded areas and others are with friends and family. Sanitation activities were held in shelters in order to control epidemiology and conduct sanitary education workshops. Health services were hard to reach to some rural zones due to the roads' harsh conditions.

How we work

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

The International Federation's activities are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Contact information

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Colombia: Walter Cotte, National Director of Operations and Relief, Colombian Red Cross Society, Bogotá; email: Phone +571 437-6300, fax +571 473-6301

In Lima: Giorgio Ferrario, Regional Representative of the South America Regional Representation Office; phone: + 511 221 8151; fax: + 511 441 3607; email:

In Panama: Dario Alvarez, Acting Head of the Pan American Disaster Response Unit, Panama; phone: + 507 316 1001; fax + 507 316 1082; email:

In Panama: Maria Alcazar, Resource Mobilization Coordinator, Americas; phone: + 507 380 0250; fax: + 507 317 1304; email:

In Geneva: Pablo Medina, Operations Coordinator for the Americas; phone: phone + 41 79 2173376; fax: + 41 22 730 0395; email