Cuba: Hurricane Season 2008 Interim Final report Emergency appeal n° MDRCU0001

Situation Report
Originally published


Period covered by this Interim Final Report: 8 September 2008 to 8 September 2009;

Appeal target (current): CHF 6,412,000 (USD 5,929,461 or EUR 4,222,032);

Final Appeal coverage: 96%;

Appeal history:

- CHF 150,000 was initially allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Cuban Red Cross (CRC) in starting early damage and needs assessments following Hurricane Gustav.

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

- Given the levels of affectation and the impact of subsequent hurricanes, the Emergency Appeal was increased on 25 September 2008 to CHF 10,106,348 (USD 9,187,600 or EUR 6,257,800) to assist 60,000 beneficiaries for nine months.

- The Appeal budget was revised on 30 October 2008 to CHF 9,604,366 (USD 8,811,345 or EUR 6,156,645) with a reduction in the quantity of relief items and the same number of beneficiaries.

- With Appeal coverage standing at 64 per cent, the operational activities were revised at the time of the publication of Operations Update no. 4, including a reduced budget of CHF 6,412,000 (USD 5,929,461 or EUR 4,222,032) to assist 35,000 people (7,000 families) over a period of twelve months.


Overall, the Cuban Red Cross and the International Federation were able to respond well to the high level of need that arose from the 2008 Hurricane Season. Of particular note was the crucial role undertaken by the Cuban authorities and the Cuban Red Cross in emergency preparedness and response prior to the impact of the hurricanes. Widespread early warning and the evacuation of nearly three million people ensured that no lives were lost, despite the high impact of the storms.

Although the original appeal target was underfunded, in large part due to the number of other emergency response operations in the region, the relief efforts undertaken to support the CRC were significant. Subsequent appeal budgets were drawn up in-line with the funds available. Additional support, such as inkind contributions from the Finnish Red Cross and the Spanish Red Cross, along with careful beneficiary selection and distribution processes, ensured that assistance reached those who needed it most and allowed the relief operation to reach a greater number of beneficiaries. In addition, the operation was able to incur savings in the purchase of zinc sheets, which allowed additional sheets to be purchased so that more families could benefit from new roofs. As a result, 25,161 families received emergency non-food items, while 10,186 families received much needed shelter assistance. Furthermore, important groundwork has been laid in supporting the efficacy of farming and fishing cooperatives, which is assisting in the longterm recovery from the devastating effects of the hurricanes and ensuring that local residents will be less vulnerable to future disasters. The distribution of informative materials on disaster preparedness to families during relief and recovery activities has additionally sought to ensure that local populations are strengthened in the face of future emergency situations.

Finally, the capacity of the Cuban Red Cross was enhanced through this relief operation, as the National Society improved its coordination with the government, and additional volunteers were recruited. Through increased experience in disaster response, as well as through the purchase of much needed items for the CRC, such as visibility items and vehicles, the National Society is better prepared to respond to future emergencies.

This final report features an interim financial report as there are pending transactions to be recorded. The final financial report will be made available as soon as these transactions have been registered. The remaining funds for this operation will be allocated to the Annual Plan for the Latin Caribbean region.

Lessons learnt:

The response to the 2008 hurricane season was the largest emergency response operation conducted by the National Society in the last 15 years, and as such has had a notable impact on the institution, strengthening existing processes and highlighting capacity-building areas for future emergency response operations.

- Emergency relief: The quick response of and close coordination between the National Society and the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) following the impact of the hurricane ensured that a coherent Plan of Action was drawn up that responded to the immediate needs of the affected population. In particular, the use of prepositioned relief items in warehouses in the region and their quick deployment to the country made it possible for the Red Cross to provide immediate relief to beneficiaries. However, the fluctuation of the prices of some relief items indicates that it may be necessary to conduct a study of the market and existing agreements with suppliers in the region, in particular for those products for which there is the greatest demand.

- Institutional strengthening: The operation has served to strengthen links between the Cuban Red Cross' national headquarters and the provincial and municipal branches, not only improving internal relations but also transferring capacity in the technical and operational roles of emergency management.

- Development and integration of broader, longer-term recovery strategies: The inclusion of an early recovery component in the CRC plan of action has provided much needed, valuable longerterm support to the affected communities in their recovery from the aftermath of the hurricanes. At the same time it is promoting and developing new skill sets within the Cuban Red Cross regional branches which will be key in providing integral response.

- Recruitment, training and promotion of volunteers: In total, 139 new volunteers were recruited from the affected communities, with local populations keen to support the work of the Red Cross in the development of the operation. The response also afforded the opportunity to provide training to volunteers at the local level, including specialized training in disaster response and preparedness.

- Strengthening of inter-institutional links: Close coordination with all actors involved in the response was required, improving relations with national and local authorities and nongovernmental organizations, as well as with members of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. This served to consolidate existing and new partnerships vital to respond not only to this but to future emergencies.

- Strengthening of community links: By its very nature, an operation such as this serves to strengthen links with affected communities, not only in the immediate response but in the early recovery and recovery phases, enhancing a greater understanding of community needs and establishing priorities for continued action in these areas. Actions developed under the operation have served to strengthen links with formal and informal community leaders, as well as in the recruitment of community volunteers.

Although the operation has officially ended, the CRC continues its work in responding to community needs and in addressing broader disaster risk reduction issues.

On behalf of Cuban Red Cross, the International Federation would like to thank all partners and donors for their generous response to this appeal. The operation received multilateral contributions from the American Red Cross, the Australian government/Australian Red Cross, the Barbados Red Cross Society, the British government/British Red Cross, the Canadian government/Canadian Red Cross, the Danish Red Cross, the European Community's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), the Finnish Red Cross, the Irish government, the Italian government, the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Monaco Red Cross, the Netherlands Red Cross, the Nicaraguan Red Cross, the Norwegian government/Norwegian Red Cross, the OPEC Fund For International Development, the Spanish government/Spanish Red Cross, the Swedish government/Swedish Red Cross, the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent, the Western Union Foundation and private donors. The Cuban Red Cross response was also bilaterally supported by the Finnish Red Cross and the Spanish Red Cross.