Colombia: Floods DREF operation no. MDRCO004

Originally published
Glide No. FL-2008-000197-COL

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 and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

CHF 95,700 (USD 87,477 or EUR 60,955) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the National Society in delivering immediate emergency assistance to 1,000 families. Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

Summary: Heavy rainfall during the second rainy season in the regions of La Mojana, Llanos Orientales and Region Andina have led to severe flooding, affecting many people by damaging or destroying their homes and belongings. The Colombian Red Cross Society has been working since the onset of the disaster to provide relief assistance to the affected population.

This operation is expected to be implemented over three months, and will therefore be completed by 22 January 2009; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 22 April 2009).

The situation

The second rainy season continues in most parts of Colombia, causing several mudslides, the overflowing of rivers and flooding in the low areas adjacent to the Magdalena and Cauca rivers. The Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute (Instituto de Hidrologia, Metereologia y Estudios Ambientales - IDEAM) forecast that the heavy rains will continue, particularly in the Caribbean and Andean region of Colombia. Alerts were issued around critical rivers (Magdalena, Sinu, San Jorge) that could overflow, as well as to warn people of the imminent risk of mudslides.

The Colombian Red Cross Society (CRCS), in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior's Direction of Disaster Prevention and Response (Direccion de Prevencion y Atencion de Desastres), estimated that throughout this year an accumulated number of 575,574 people were affected by the rains, 94 people were killed, 139 injured and 13 missing.

The zones that sustained the heaviest damage during this second season are the regions of La Mojana, Llanos Orientales and Region Andina due to the overflowing of the Cauca, Sinu, San Jorge, Arauca, Atrato and Meta rivers. The intensive rains battered 76 municipalities in 16 department of the country; from these the departments of Cordoba, Bolivar, Sucre, Magdalena, Atlantico, Antioquia, Meta, Cauca, Norte de Santander, Cundinamarca and Guajira were the most affected.

Affected residents have taken refuge in improvised shelters such as schools, colleges and local warehouses, while others are staying with friends and families. In all cases, the outbreak of diarrhea, respiratory infections, vector spread and skin diseases and gastrointestinal problems is an imminent concern.

Coordination and partnerships

The CRCS, through its municipals and sectional branches, has been and will continue supporting the actions of the Local and Regional Committees for Disaster Prevention and Response (Comite Local de Prevencion y Atencion de Desastres - CLOPAD and Comite Regional de Prevencion y Atencion de Desastres - CREPAD). The CRCS is specifically supporting CLOPAD and CREPAD in the coordination of efforts, damages evaluation, need assessments and initial assistance to the affected people. The International federation, through its Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) is closely monitoring the situation and coordinating relief activities.

CLOPAD and CREPAD have supported emergency actions with 750 million Colombian pesos of humanitarian aid consisting of food and non-food relief items, and the construction of contingency barriers in the Bolivar department.

Relief items provided by CLOPAD and CREPAD

Municipalities benefitted
Blankets Baranquilla (Atlantico department)
Food parcels Baranquilla (Atlantico)
Hammocks 4,000 in Baranquilla (Atlantico) 2,000 in Cordoba, Villanueva, San Juan Neponuceno, Yambran Guamo, Cicuco, Pinillos and Morales (Bolivar)
Hygiene kits Baranquilla (Atlantico)
Mattresses Baranquilla (Atlantico)
Kitchen kits Baranquilla (Atlantico)
Bags of polypropylene to build contingency barriers Cordoba, Villanueva, San Juan Neponuceno, Yambrano, El Gu Cicuco, Pinillos and Morales (Bolivar)