Colombia: Hurricane Iota DREF Operation Update no. 1 (MDRCO017)

Situation Report
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This operation update is issued in response to the non-cost one-month extension to this operation. The new end date is 31 March 2021. The Colombia Red Cross Society (CRCS) extends the implementation time due lengthy procurement processes that have affected the distribution of kits stipulated in the Emergency Plan of Action, as well as the modification of the planned livelihoods and basic needs actions.

With regards to livelihoods and basic needs, the situation in the field had changed. In the initial plan, 800 food kits were to be distributed. On the island of Providencia, the National Unit for Risk and Disaster Management (UNGRD) is coordinating the response and expressly indicated that it would provide in-kind and voucher-based food assistance for the first three months after the hurricane hit. This operation’s funds planned for food kits were reallocated to 321 additional Multipurpose Cash Transfers based on vulnerability criteria (reaching a total of 1,221 cash-based intervention for the whole operation). This cash transfer will allow the inhabitants of Providencia to procure local produce and buy from their neighbours and purchase other first necessity goods not covered by the government’s assistance.


Description of the disaster

In November 2020, two hurricanes (Eta and Iota) evolved into category 4 and 5 storms. They significantly affected the Colombian regions of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, Bolívar, Guajira, Atlántico, Magdalena and Sucre. The number and strength of hurricanes this year is due to various causes: the absence of an El Niño event, increasing ocean temperatures, changing atmospheric patterns, and another climate change-associated phenomenon. By the end of 2020, 228,000 people claimed to be affected by floods, hurricane-force winds, and landslides in 11 departments of the country.

Only within 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. As of February 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. The historical needs related to formal water and sanitation infrastructure have become evident, and local and national authorities are employing this opportunity to devise sustainable solutions.