Colombia: Hurricane Iota DREF Final Report (MDRCO017)

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

In November 2020, two hurricanes (Eta and Iota) evolved into category 4 and 5 storms. Hurricane Iota reached the San Andrés archipelago (San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina) on 16 November 2020, also affecting the departments of Bolívar, Guajira, Atlántico, Magdalena and Sucre.

Based on figures from 17 November 2020 (OCHA Flash Update no. 3), Hurricane Iota affected 228,000 people. The Government of Colombia stated that 98 per cent of the infrastructure of the island of Providencia was damaged, including impacts on infrastructure, loss of property, belongings and road blockages.
On the island of Providencia, 95 per cent of the population was affected, between 1,900 and 2,000 houses were destroyed, water and sanitation infrastructure were weakened, health and education installations were left unsafe for use, and storehouses and medical equipment were damaged. This created an increasing social and economic impact on the island.

The number and strength of hurricanes in the 2020-2021 hurricane season is due to various causes: the absence of an El Niño event, increasing ocean temperatures, changing atmospheric patterns, and other climate changeassociated phenomenon. As of March 2021, 321,000 people to be affected by floods, hurricane-force winds, and landslides in 11 departments of the country.

As of June 2021, the inhabitants of San Andrés and Providencia islands still require humanitarian support. Despite the government and donors’ response, the lack of storage space is a challenge for food supplies on the island.
With this disaster, the historical needs related to formal water and sanitation infrastructure are noticeable; local and national authorities are employing this opportunity to devise sustainable solutions.

With support from this DREF operation as well as other donors, the Colombian Red Cross Society (CRCS), with IFRC support, provided fundamental humanitarian assistance such as multipurpose cash transfers and water. Based on the results of lessons learned workshop, this operation has shown the importance to continue actions, to support resilience building with communities that face seasonal hydrometeorological risks and the implementation of forecast-based actions.

While the DREF operation has ended, the CRCS continues to implement recovery actions on the Islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina with interventions in Health, WASH, Livelihoods and Humanitarian assistance, mainly with funds from American Red Cross. Additionally, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD)-led interventions, in which various organizations implement different actions, remain underway. Currently, the arrival of tourists on the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina is prohibited; the only entries allowed are those of local inhabitants and authorized personnel of institutions engaged in the recovery work on the island. Tourism reactivation in the islands is planned for mid-July 2021.