Cuba: Hurricane Season 2008 Emergency Appeal No. MDRCU0001 Operations Update No. 3

Situation Report
Originally published


GLIDE No. TC-2008-000143

Period covered by this Ops Update: 20 October to 31 January 2009.

Appeal target (current): CHF 9,604,366 (USD 8,811,345 or EUR 6,156,645)

Appeal coverage:54%

Appeal history:

- CHF 150,000 was initially allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the National Society in Cuba in starting their early damage and needs assessments after Hurricane Gustav.

- This Emergency Appeal was ni tially launched on a preliminary basis on 8 September, 2008 for CHF 6,417,524 (USD 5,834,112 or EUR 3,973,699)f or nine months to assist 40,000 beneficiaries.

- The Emergency Appeal was revised on 25 September, 2008 for CHF 10,106,348 (USD 9,187,600 or EUR 6,257,800) o t assist 60,000 beneficiaries for nine months.

- Operations update n=B0 2 included a revised budget of CHF 9,604,366 (USD 8,811,345 or EUR 6,156,645) to assist 60,000 beneficiaries for nine months.


Hurricane Gustav hit the island of Cuba on 31 August 2008 with heavy winds and rain causing flooding throughout the island. Gustav, considered to be the worst storm to strike Cuba in 50 years, left thousands of people affected. Just as the Cuban Red Cross (CRC) was responding to this emergency, Hurricane Ike ravaged the island as a category three storm. Ike entered through Punta Lucrecia on 7 September and crossed the island as a category one hurricane causing additional widespread damage. Based on the situation, this third Operations Update is focused on providing up to date information on the support and activities carried out by the Cuban Red Cross and the International Federation. This Emergency Appeal places an emphasis on providing support to deliver appropriate and timely response, assistance and relief through the provision of non-food relief items, shelter, water and sanitation, and capacity building, with a view of contributing to reduce disaster risk.

A continuum strategy has been developed by the CRC and the International Federation to address food security as part of recovery efforts. The strategy seeks to improve the living conditions of the most affected communities by providing alternatives to grow and process food for sale and self consumption. Approximately, 20,700 people will be able to produce their own food complementing their basic nutrition needs. This strategy will be conducted in partnership with agricultural experts in Cuba. The implementation of this strategy is expected to be completed until June 2009.

This operation is expected to be implemented over nine months, and will therefore be completed by 8 June 2009; a Final Report will be made available by 8 September 2009 (three months after the end of the operation).

The situation

I n less than a month, between 16 August and 10 September, Cuba was affected directly and indirectly by four extreme meteorological events: Tropical Storm Fay, which caused significant flooding; Hurricane Gustav, h t e most devastating hurricane in the past 50 years; Tropical Storm Hanna, which, although did not strike the Island directly, it caused flooding in the eastern zone of the country; and Hurricane Ike, which advanced across the entire Cuban territory.

As a preventive measure, three million people were evacuated, approximately 28% of the total population of the country. The two hurricanes together damaged more than 444,000 homes representing 14 percent occupancy rate in Cuba, some with partial or total loss of roofs. Of those damaged, 63,249 fully collapsed. Assuming an average of four persons per dwelling, 2,000,000 persons were affected, corresponding to 18 percent of the Cuban population.

The most affected provinces are Pinar del Rio, Holguín, Las Tunas and Camag=FCey, as well as the municipality of t he Isle of Youth. Regarding the agricultural sector, nearly 113,000 hectares of crops were damaged and an estimated of 53,000 tonnes of food were lost.

Significant damage to infrastructure systems of the country have also been reported, including damage to the electric energy distribution system, school installations, health care centres, environmental and patrimony sites. Furthermore, numerous water storage tanks, which ensure access to water in most of Cuban dwellings and n i stitutions, were destroyed. Losses amount to 5 billion USD, almost 10% of the Gross Internal Product. All this devastation called for immediate assistance and the provision of basic products and services for the affected population.

Although, the entire national territory was impacted, and some regions were affected more than once, the most affected province in rural Cuba is Pinar del Río. Damage caused by Ike's o f rce winds and heavy rains added to he t destruction caused by Gustav n i the Province of Pinar del Rio and specially in the municipality of Isle of Youth. Pinar del Rio is the second most productive province in the country after Havana, producing 10 percent of the national production within this sector. Damages to the agricultural sector in Pinar del Rio, particularly urban agriculture, will impact negatively the food security of the local and national population.

The aftermaths of the 2008 hurricane season in Cuba have so serious in this occasion, that for the first time in the modern history of Cuba, the government has lifted the ban on Cubans building their own homes. Until now the construction of homes has been the responsibility of the government but the state has not been able to during the la st three years to fulfil its annual goal of building 100,000 new homes. The shortage was compounded when t h ree hurricanes hit Cuba last year levelling over half a million homes. Cubans will now be allowed to construct t he ir own homes using clear guidelines governing the dimensions of a proposed new dwelling.