Appeal Target: US$ 941,515
Balance Requested from ACT Alliance: US$ 224,487
Geneva, 20 August 2004
Torrential rains that fell in the Dominican Republic at the end of May caused severe flooding and landslides, particularly in area bordering with Haiti. The "White" river - shared by both Haiti and the Dominican Republic (where it is known as the "Soleil" River) - started to rise significantly the night of 23 May. Around 2:30 a.m. the river burst its banks, and mud-filled waters carried away houses and sleeping inhabitants.
The most affected area was the Jimaní Municipality. According to the National Emergency Commission (CNE) there are around 5,932 families who have been affected through the loss of loved ones, homes, crops, livestock and all their possessions. Public services and infrastructure, and particularly water systems were also severely impacted. The affected population includes both Dominicans and Haitians as many Haitian migrants have settled in this area.
The loss of crops, which are the main support for farm families, will soon result in scarcity of food and lack of income. This situation is exacerbated by the severe socio-economic crisis in the country where the highest inflation rates in decades have hit those most vulnerable - especially those affected by the floods and landslides.
ACT member in the Dominican Republic, Social Service of the Dominican Churches (SSID), is proposing to respond to the situation through assistance with food and non-food items, agricultural recovery, food security and livelihood; reconstruction of houses; disaster preparedness training and trauma counselling.
Project Completion Date: 30 June 2005
Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested
Total Target US$
|Less: Pledges/Contr Recd||
|Balance requested from ACT Alliance||
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ACT Web Site address: www.act-intl.org
Acting Director, ACT Co-ordinating Office
ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide.
The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.
I. REQUESTING MEMBER
- Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID)
II. REQUESTING ACT MEMBER & PARTNER INFORMATION
SSID is a non-profit, inter-denominational development institution. It was formed in May 1962 and is made up of 16 Protestant denominations. It was formed to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs after the fall of the dictator Trujillo - a time of civil war as the country sought to return to democracy.
SSID has a large network of pastors and leaders who know and understand the people, their needs and potential ways of dealing with the many problems. Many of these pastors are from denominations that are members of SSID and are involved in community projects. Earlier this year the National Evangelical Commission for Emergencies in the Dominican Republic was formed to bring together all Christian entities that respond to the frequent disasters in the country. SSID functions as the "operations centre" for this commission.
The project will be implemented with the assistance of partners in the region. Participating communities have local and regional structures made up of community leaders. There are also NGOs present in the area such as World Vision as well as local government authorities with whom SSOD co-ordinates. There are also a number of international NGOs that will at some point participate - OXFAM, UNICEF, USAID, OPS amongst others.
In Jimaní there are local structures that co-ordinate emergency assistance to families sheltering in tents as well as those living temporarily with other families. These structures will continue until families are relocated new housing. The National Emergency Committee (CNE) with its large number of trained volunteers has been carrying out valuable work in the crisis period. These activities will, however, soon end.
III. DESCRIPTION OF THE EMERGENCY SITUATION
The Dominican Republic frequently suffers various natural disasters due to its geographic position - in the direct path of hurricanes and storms. These disasters are exacerbated by the fact that many of the population live in poverty and high vulnerability.
In 2004 when the hurricane season was only starting, the Dominican Republic was hit by tropical storm Odette and later by heavy rainfall that caused extensive damage in different parts of the island, mostly in the border areas with Haiti. Floods, landslides and raging, overflowing rivers killed people and animals, destroyed homes, fields and infrastructure such as bridges, water and irrigation systems, roads etc.
The heavy rains which lashed different parts of the country had catastrophic consequences, affecting mainly the town of Jimaní, capital of the province of Independencia. The torrential rains, which fell during the night of 23 May and the dawn of 24 May produced a huge flow of water carrying earth, rock, trees and debris that became an avalanche strengthened by landslides in the border mountains with Haiti.
The Soliette River, better known by Dominicans as the Blanco River, which only has water when it rains, wiped out a large part of the homes in Jimaní, destroying entire neighbourhoods and damaging 70% of the homes and properties in the municipality. The most affected neighbourhoods were El Tanque, La 40 y Las 80, Batey Bombita y Arroyo Blanco that were completely destroyed while Los Robles, La 50, El INVI, Jimaní Viejo, Jimaní Nuevo, 27 de febrero, la Q, Pueblo I y II were flooded and suffered different levels of damage.
There was also significant damage to the infrastructure, such as bridges, including the main access bridge to Jimaní, as well as damage to streets and rural gravel roads. The town's water system was damaged as were electric and telephone lines. The local hospital suffered severe damage to equipment and furniture which forced it to shut down.
However, not only Jimaní suffered (Jimaní was in the limelight due to the loss of life), there were other regions that were severely impacted and have not received any attention. This is the case of the municipality of Cristóbal, at the other end of the province of Independencia, in the area where the Yaque del Sur River and its tributaries flooded many communities, damaging homes and crops.
The same is valid for Elías Piña province which is just north of Independencia province. The Guaza River, shared between the Dominican Republic and Haiti flooded homes and destroyed crops of 118 families in Veladero. The majority of these families were Haitian living permanently on the Dominican side. In this same province the town of Elías Piña was cut off due to loss of the bridge over the Caña River near Matayaya.
In the Monte Plata province, north of the capital, communities located near the Ozama, Savita, Mijo and Yabacao Rivers were flooded producing damage to homes, loss of possessions and considerable crop damage. The villages of Chirino, Yabacao, and Luisa Prieta also suffered extensive damage. Villagers in Caguaza and Los Mameyes had to be rescued by boat from the flood waters.
In the north and north-east region (Duarte and Juan Sánchez Ramírez, María Trinidad Sánchez, Monseñor Nouel provinces) heavy flooding affected several municipalities where homes and large areas of crops were under water for days or were washed way. Many rice fields and others crops were damaged in the region. The situation was similar in other communities in Santo Domingo, Azua, Pedernales, San Juan de La Maguana, San Cristóbal y San José de Ocoa.
Description of the Situation in the Area of Proposed Response
The National Commission for Emergencies (CNE) immediately organised themselves in Jimaní and co-ordinated rescue and relief efforts. The Dominican people showed true solidarity donating food and clothes for those in need. Private businesses, NGOs and government institutions immediately responded with food , water, medicine, mattresses, candles and matches.
The CNE provided tents, cooking pots, and basic equipment to take care of those in centres for the displaced and those living with families who were not affected by the flooding. They used their own inventory and also received donations from international organisations.
In the first days aid distributions were disorganised, but by the following week things improved when a warehouse system (SUMA) was set up to manage and distribute aid. All aid was brought to the warehouse from which provisions are sent to those in need. The Dominican Republic has previous training and experience using the SUMA system after problems encountered following Hurricane Georges in 1998.
In the early weeks there was lots of help from different organisations, national and international, who mobilised staff and equipment to help victims. Doctors and rescue specialists from different countries came and helped considerably in the areas of health, food and sanitation, etc. Institutions such as INAPA and INDRHI (water), SESPAS (public health), and Public Works have also been assisting. SSID observed, however, the need for a co-ordinating body for all the efforts. A committee has been named to develop a strategic plan that will be a reference for all future interventions to rebuild what is now being called "New Jimaní".
The above activities relate to the crisis phase. Many organisations will leave and much of the assistance will come to an end. Now comes the post crisis period or reconstruction phase. The needs of the flood affected remain great and the more vulnerable are still in need of outside assistance to help them regain their livelihood. This phase will also be significant for those communities in other regions of the country affected by the rains that have not received any outside help.
Repercussions for Human Life
According to the National Emergency Commission (CNE) there are around 5,932 families who have been affected through the loss of loved ones, homes, crops, livestock and all their possessions.
Public services and infrastructure were seriously impacted, although the government has promised to repair these services, in many communities it appears that it will be a long time before this happens. There is also a lack of potable water - a provisional water processing plant has been installed in Jimaní along with anti-algae tanks, portable sanitary service for homes and displacement camps. However, these measures are temporary at best as the services are paid by contract and as such will soon disappear. SSID will install a water treatment plant (donated by Norwegians) that guarantees pure water for as long as needed. Inhabitants do not trust tap water and do not like the taste of chlorine. Medical staff in the refugee camps are also requesting bottled water for drinking since what they receive is not enough.
The loss of crops, the main support of farm families, will soon result in scarcity of food and lack of income. This situation is exacerbated by the severe socio-economic crisis in the country where the highest inflation rates in decades have hit those most vulnerable - especially those affected by the floods and landslides.
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