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Dominican Republic and Haiti: Floods Appeal No. 13/2004 Operations Update No. 11

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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.

In Brief

Appeal No. 13/04; Operations Update no. 11; Period covered: 28 May -- 11 October 2004; Appeal coverage: 123.3%; (click here to go directly to the attached Contributions List, also available on the website).

Appeal history:

- Launched on 28 May 2004 for CHF 912,248 (USD 717,176 or EUR 592,446) for 3 months to assist 10,000 beneficiaries (2,000 families).
- Budget revised and increased to CHF 2,433,000 and the number of beneficiaries increased to 25,000 (5,000 families). The operation was extended by 3 months to 28 November 2004; Final Report is therefore due on 28 February 2005.
- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 100,000

Outstanding needs : None

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Caribbean Annual Appeal 01.51/2004; Haiti Social Unrest Emergency Appeal 07/2004 and Haiti Floods Emergency Appeal 22/2004.

Operational Summary: Haiti was once again struck by a major natural disaster between 17 and 19 of September. Tropical Strom Jeanne caused severe flooding and landslides throughout the country, affecting also some regions of the Dominican Republic. Efforts to assist the communities affected by Tropical Storm Jeanne have stretched the resources of the Haitian National Red Cross Society to the limit. As a result, attention and capacities concentrated on ongoing rehabilitation activities in the border region with the Dominican Republic have been redirected to the town of Gonaives and the surrounding areas in the west of the country. However, field reports from both the Dominican Republic and Haiti have confirmed that the emergency relief phase of the May floods operation has progressed well and according to schedule , with all relief activities now successfully completed. Meanwhile, positive long term results have also started to be felt as communities show strong signs of recovery from the earlier disaster. This Operations Update covers the entire period of the operation, from the launch of the preliminary appeal on 28 May 2004 until this date. The relief distribution figures are all consolidated, providing an overview of the relief phase of the operation, based on the latest information available on the ground. Achievements and progress to date of all health and capacity building objectives also reflect the entire period of the operation up to now.

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

Background

Several days of heavy rains in late May brought devastating floods to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, causing several rivers to overflow. The majority of the damage was concentrated around the southern border region between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The final figures confirm that there were around 2,000 dead. Hundreds of people remain missing and are presumed dead. In addition, thousands more have been displaced by the flooding, which destroyed homes and crops throughout the affected areas.

In Haiti, the worst affected regions were the South, West and South East Departments. In the area surrounding the town of Mapou, in the South East Department, hundreds of homes were destroyed and the local water source was contaminated by thousands of human and animal corpses. In the West Department, at least 237 people died in the border town of Fonds Verrettes when a flash flood swept through the area. Relief operations in Haiti have been slowed as, initially , many of the affected areas were only accessible by helicopter.

In the Dominican Republic, the hardest-hit areas were the Provinces of Independencia (the town of Jimaní, located on the border with Haiti), Elias Piña, Duarte and Sanchez Ramirez (the Bajo Yuna region). In Jimaní alone a total of 393 were confirmed dead. Throughout the country, 414 people lost their lives, more than 15,000 people and 3,000 homes were affected by the floods, with some 1,600 families made homeless. Many of the affected persons in the border region of the Dominican Republic are Haitian migrants, most undocumented.

Operational developments

The relief operation in response to the floods in the Dominican Republic and Haiti has been swift and proportional in its size, considering the high level of destruction caused by the disaster. Relief supplies were flown into Santo Domingo almost immediately after the first damage reports were received by the Federation. Relief efforts have been efficiently coordinated by the Federation, and the response of the Red Cross Movement and the international community in general was generous, timely and adequate. However, due to the widespread devastation and the disruption of communications and transportation links, relief efforts were hampered in the immediate aftermath of the floods, as the most affected communities remained completely cut off and beyond the reach of emergency assistance for several days.

In a well orchestrated and swift response, resources were immediately mobilized to support the Dominican Red Cross (DRC) and the Haitian National Red Cross Society (HNRCS). The Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) deployed a team to coordinate the operation on the ground, including an operations manager and disaster response and telecommunications delegates. Additional human resources and technical experts were also deployed to the region from the Federation Secretariat in Geneva, the Panama and Lima Regional Delegations and from the Regional Finance Unit. In order to further reinforce and support the operation, resources were also mobilized directly by numerous Partner National Societies. From the outset, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) played a key role in the floods response operation, taking the lead in providing the logistical support required to begin the relief operation on the ground and distributing relief f supplies in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Logistical challenges encountered in this operation were enormous, particularly in Haiti and during the initial phase of the operation. Aircrafts were flown into the region carrying tons of relief goods, dispatched mostly from PADRU in Panama or organised directly by Partner National Societies. In the effort to bring emergency relief to the victims in the most remote and hardest-hit areas, transport solutions had to be creative, flexible and fast. They ranged from helicopters to boats and motorcycles; even donkeys and mules have been used to transport items over damaged parts of the access roads. Almost two weeks after the disaster, a Federation car was the first vehicle to reach Mapou, the most affected district of Haiti. In order to facilitate access to affected areas, the Federation played and active role in reopening and rehabilitating roads. Field reports also confirm that a total of 371 corpses have been recovered by the Red Cross in the district of Mapou alone, where the death tool reached 412. This activity has been crucial to avoid further contamination of water sources and the spread of diseases.

Now, five months after the floods wreaked havoc in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the emergency phase of the operation has been successfully completed. Search and rescue activities have stopped and relief goods, food parcels, shelter materials and clean water have been distributed to beneficiaries in the most affected areas of both countries. Capacity building initiatives have also been implemented and have started to produce tangible results, particularly in the Red Cross branches located in the border areas. However, due to the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Jeanne, which struck Haiti in September and also affected regions of the Dominican Republic, the timely implementation of rehabilitation and recovery objectives has been compromised. The capacity of the National Societies and of the Federation has been overstretched as a third emergency relief operation takes off in Haiti during 2004 alone, mobilizing all resources currently available in the country.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action - objectives, progress, impact

Emergency relief (food and basic non-food items)

Objective: 5,000 beneficiary families in the Dominican Republic and Haiti will have received food and non-food relief to assist them in recovering from the effects of the flooding.

Progress/Achievements (activities implemented within this objective)

Extensive needs assessments and surveys of the selected beneficiaries were carried out by the Federation and Dominican and Haitian Red Cross' volunteers throughout the entire emergency phase of the operation. Findings of these assessments and of monitoring efforts helped to adapt plans and target the assistance to the most affected communities. The operational Plan of Action has been revised to incorporate new findings from the field and adapt activities in a flexible manner, aiming at helping the largest number of people and provide them with the best possible assistance.

Distributions of the intended relief food and non-food items were completed in the two countries during the month of August. In total, some 3,000 families in the Dominican Republic and 2,000 families in Haiti have been assisted. Basic food parcels distributed to the families included the following items:

Description
Quantity
Rice
25 lbs
Cooking oil
1 gallon
Red beans
2 lbs
Sardines
15 ounces
Spaghetti
400 grams
Chocolate
10 bars
Salt
2 lbs
Sugar
5 lbs
Matches
10 boxes
Drinking water
1 gallon

The kitchen sets distributed consisted of 2 cooking pots, 1 frying pan, 4 metal bowls, 5 metal plates, 5 metal cups, 5 spoons, 5 forks, 5 knives, 1 kitchen knife and 1 wooden spoon. During the first three months of the operation, it has been confirmed that some 4,500 kitchen sets have reached the hands of beneficiaries in the two affected countries.

Hygiene parcels have also been distributed to over 5,000 families. They consisted of toilet paper, towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, sanitary towels, razors and a refuse bag. According to field distribution reports, over 10,000 hygiene parcels have been distributed during the relief phase of the operation.

Additional relief items distributed in the Dominican Republic and Haiti included mosquito nets, water purification tablets, watermakers, jerry cans, buckets, tarpaulins, tents and bed sheets.

Emergency Relief in the Dominican Republic:

Clean water

In the Dominican Republic, large efforts have focused on restoring the damaged drinking water systems and providing safe water to beneficiaries in the flood-affected areas. In the province of Elias Piña in particular, the inundations caused serious damage to the water distribution system. Two water treatment plants were brought into the area to distribute water to those struck by the disaster. In addition, 42 water tanks have been installed in several of the hardest-hit communities within the province, supplying about 66,000 litres of water every day for a period of three months. Jerry cans were also provided at distribution points to facilitate the transport and storage of the clean water.

Food and non-food items

Relief distributions in the Dominican Republic were carried out in the provinces of Duarte, Independencia Jimani, Elias Piña, Sanchez Ramirez, Valverde Mao, San Juan de la Maguana, Santo Domingo and Sabana Grande de Boya. The distributions of food, kitchen sets, hygiene parcels and mosquito nets were reported as completed by the end of August and consolidated distribution reports have been compiled by the Federation. The table below indicates the final status of distributions of food and non-food items in the Dominican Republic:

Province
Food Parcels
Kitchen Sets
Hygiene Parcels
Mosquito Nets
Duarte
6,000
2,000
4,000
3,000
Independencia, Jimaní
1,350
450
900
1,350
Elias Piña
318
-
-
150
Sanchez Ramirez
600
200
400
600
Valderde Mao
200
100
200
100
San Juan de la Maguana
332
166
332
200
Santo Domingo
168
-
168
-
Sabana Grande de Boya
36
36
36
36
Total
9,004
2,952
6,036
5,436

Relief goods donated by the American Red Cross, in addition to the Federation appeal, have also been distributed within the most affected provinces. These goods included 3,000 units of hygiene parcels, cleanup kits and school kits. Following surveys carried out by Dominican Red Cross volunteers, some 3,000 children received a complementary children's food kit that included 4 litres of milk and 400 grams of cereal. In addition, a total of 103 bundles of clothes were also distributed to the most vulnerable families in the province of Duarte. Plastic sheets were also distributed throughout the affected areas in the immediate aftermath of the floods to those whose homes were destroyed.

Emergency Relief in Haiti:

Shelter

The latest information received from Haiti confirmed that a total of 1,337 families have received plastic sheeting for the construction of temporary shelters. The construction work was organized in phases. First, families living in high risk areas were informed about why they had to reallocate to safer grounds. Then, groups of 20 people were instructed on how to build temporary houses. A model house was built and the people were then organized to help each other with the other houses. All required construction tools were provided by the Federation. Plastic sheets were only provided after the frames had been inspected. The temporary houses were built on government land near the original villages. Beneficiaries were encouraged to use materials from their old homes and wood from destroyed trees, avoiding cutting remaining trees. To date, over 1,250 shelters have been completed in safer areas, making beneficiaries less vulnerable to floods and landslides in the future.

Food and non-food items

A total of 1,906 Federation food parcels consisting of rice, beans, pasta, sugar, salt, chocolate and matches were distributed, mostly during August in the communities of Barois, Pichon, Ka Konte, Didier, Citadel, Bois Tombé, Nan Galette, St. Michel, Haut Fort, Na Roche, Ti Place, Marchasse, Zamor and Cibao. In addition, the HNRCS distributed food provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), totaling 5.8 MT of rice, 7.3 MT of wheat soy blend and 2,920 litres of cooking oil, to approximately 3,000 families within the district of Mapou. Non-food items were also distributed in the same locations.The table below summarises the distribution status of Federation food and non-food items in Haiti:

Item
Quantity
Bed sheets
4,927
Buckets with lids
1,936
Tarpaulin sheets
4,587
Mosquito nets
3,403
Kitchen sets
1,539
Hygiene parcels
3,361
Water (1 gallon)
1,702
Food parcels
1,906
Cooking oil (1 gallon)
1,903


In addition, since this distribution list was last updated, the Federation team in Haiti has confirmed that a total of 2,372 food parcels and the same quantity of cooking oil gallons were requested from Santo Domingo, and were received and distributed in Mapou. Additional relief goods have also been pre-positioned in Port-au-Prince and Mapou as a preparedness measure in the event of future inundations. These stocks include bed sheets, buckets with lids, tarpaulin sheets, tents, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, watermakers, mattresses, hygiene kits and cleanup kits.

Constraints:

The difficult ies in accessing the affected communities in the Dominican Republic and Haiti have been a particular challenge during the initial phase of the operation. Many flood-affected areas remained cut off for several days; particularly in Haiti where the first relief supplies had to be flown into Mapou by helicopter. This problem was solved after the roads were cleared and new Federation operations centres were established throughout the disaster zones. Significant delays in moving supplies through customs, both in the Dominican Republic and in Haiti, seriously undermined the timely delivery of humanitarian aid in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. These difficulties were overcome with the support of the Dominican Republic's Foreign Affairs Office. To some extent, these combined logistical constraints delayed relief distributions and increased considerably the costs of transport and storage of supplies.

Health

Objective 1: 5,000 beneficiary families in the Dominican Republic and Haiti will have benefited from the distribution of health relief items, reducing their vulnerability to disease.

Progress/Achievements (activities implemented within this objective)

A full evaluation of the health situation in Mapou began on 31 May as flood waters started to recede. This assessment helped to ensure that the most critical health needs of the local population were adequately met. In addition, a second assessment focusing mainly on water and sanitation needs was initiated by mid-June in order to follow up on ongoing activities. These assessments included the mapping of existing cisterns in the affected areas, while activities focused on cleaning and chlorinating existing cisterns that had been contaminated and distributing jerry cans. In Haiti, the chlorination of water cisterns was completed by the end of July. In August, the rehabilitation of cisterns and latrines started, following up on the selection of beneficiaries. The selection criteria targeted those families whose cisterns had been damaged by floods and who would continue to reside in the same place, and whose house, roof and pipeline to retain water were in good conditions. As a result, a total of 71 beneficiary families were identified for the rehabilitation of 57 cisterns and 34 latrines in 13 localities in the district of Mapou. Field reports issued early in September confirmed that 43 per cent of cisterns and 15 per cent of the latrines had been completed. The Federation distributed the necessary materials and provided technical advice on construction.

Distributions of health relief items have been completed during the reporting period. In total, approximately 10,000 mosquito nets and hygiene parcels have reached the hands of beneficiaries in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A total of 10 condoms were included in each of the hygiene parcels that were distributed in both countries. (For more detailed figures and information on the distribution of health relief items, please refer to the Emergency Relief section of this report). In addition, in the Mapou area in Haiti, water purification tablets have been distributed in all affected villages. Door to door distributions were carried out by Red Cross teams that visited all homes in the flood-stricken areas.

Constraints:

To a significant extent, the timely distribution of health relief items has been hampered by long delays due to lengthy customs clearance procedures in both the Dominican Republic and in Haiti. The project to rehabilitate cisterns and latrines in Haiti also suffered some delays caused by difficult ies in identifying available and qualified human resources in the district of Mapou.

Objective 2: Targeted communities affected by the floods will have an increased awareness of health, hygiene and sanitation issues.

Progress/Achievements (activities implemented within this objective)

The improvement of sanitary conditions was regarded as a main priority of the relief operation in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In order to prevent the proliferation of diseases, adequate hygiene practices were promoted through the design and use of educational materials focusing on public health messages.

While clean water was distributed to the affected population in Elias Piña in the Dominican Republic, key public health messages were given to the communities during educational sessions held at distribution points. The message regarding the importance of consuming clean water instead of water from the rivers was well communicated, resulting in a high demand for the water provided by the distribution tanks. In addition, all women and children who received food parcels participated in a workshop on basic health care and personal hygiene. This group included mothers, pregnant women and children under five years of age. Also in Elias Piña, work was carried out to promote awareness about the importance of caring for and protecting clean water sources to ensure that water sources currently being used to supply drinking water to the surrounding communities are not contaminated in the future. In the province of Jimani, basic hygiene promotion activities were carried out within the community tent set up by the Dominican Red Cross.

In Haiti, distributions of water purification tables and watermakers were also accompanied by the delivery of key health messages in Creole , supported by Red Cross volunteers. The volunteers used HNRCS materials containing information on water, food and environmental hygiene and ways to avoid vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. A second hygiene education project covered 20 schools in the Mapou area, focusing on 1,000 children between 8 and 12 years of age. One-hour interactive sessions have been held at each school. These sessions included games, singing and the distribution of culturally adapted educational materials. In addition, one box containing 50 water purification tablets and a tube of toothpaste were given to the children and their families.

Finally, a total of ten condoms were included in each one of the hygiene parcels distributed in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The condoms were accompanied by a leaflet containing information regarding their correct use and about sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. This activity is in line with the ongoing youth programme carried out by the Netherlands Red Cross with the National Societies of both countries.

Objective 3: Targeted communities will have benefited from psychosocial support and family linking and tracing projects, improving the overall well being of the beneficiaries.

Progress/Achievements (activities implemented within this objective)

Since the beginning of the emergency, the Dominican Red Cross has been providing psychosocial care to the affected families, suffering from a condition described as "collective grief". As resources were limited, the impact of the Federation's activities has been increased through the collective efforts of different humanitarian organization operating in the affected areas, such as World Vision and UNICEF. In the province of Jimani, two psychologists, with the help of Red Cross volunteers trained in psychological support, attended to beneficiaries affected by the floods. Psychologists also provided support to Red Cross volunteers involved in search and rescue activities and the collection of corpses.

In Haiti, the HNRCS psychosocial coordinator held information sessions in 18 affected villages, providing information to approximately 60 community leaders. These leaders were instructed on how to identify symptoms of mental health problems and psychological stress. As a result, they were able to conduct numerous house-to-house visits and to identify possible cases requiring professional care.

Constraints:

Resources for psychosocial support have been very limited in the region, particularly in Haiti. Therefore, the Federation has deployed a psychosocial delegate to support the National Society and coordinate activities in the District of Mapou. Meanwhile, efforts to identify local capacities to be included in future response plans have intensified.

Strengthening of response capacity

Objective 1: The capacities of the communities in the affected areas will have been strengthened.

Progress/Achievements (activities implemented within this objective)

Some key disaster preparedness messages have been designed and delivered to residents of high risk areas in the district of Mapou. As a result, vulnerable communities were adequately informed about the dangers of living in high-risk areas and ways to prepare themselves to mitigate the potential effects of floods and landslides. More importantly, due to the active engagement of the assisted communities and their full participation in the selection of beneficiaries, the organization of distributions and the construction of shelters in Haiti, their capacity was strengthened significantly.

In Jimani, working closely with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other international organizations, the Federation has facilitated the organization of vulnerable communities by establishing community committees in the areas of health, nutrition, security and development. In the provinces of Duarte and Sanchez Ramirez, the Federation has contributed to the planning of a project focusing on community-based disaster preparedness and early warning systems along the Yuna River.

Objective 2: The capacities of Red Cross branches on the Haitian/Dominican Republic border will have been strengthened.

Progress/Achievements (activities implemented within this objective)

The local branches of the Dominican and Haitian Red Cross that are located in the border region have worked together carrying out joint needs assessments in the area and also providing relief assistance to flood-stricken communities. A total of eight volunteers from the DRC branch of Pedernales and eight from the HNRCS branch of Anse-à-Pitre have joined efforts to deliver basic food items and water to over 60 families in the communities of Arrecife, Bucan-Dion and Buadon-Boni on the Haitian side of the border.

The active involvement of the local branches in the border region also contributed to improving the ir understanding of Federation standard operational procedures and knowledge of important technical areas such as shelter management, logistics, and organization of relief distributions. Volunteers who were actively involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the flood-affected communities have received appropriate training and gained new skills in the areas of needs and damage assessments, logistics and disaster management. These skills will be highly valuable in such disaster-prone areas of the two countries.

The municipality in Jimani, the most affected province in the Dominican Republic, has donated a house to the Red Cross to be used as the new headquarters for the local branch. This donation was made in recognition of the humanitarian work being carried out in the area by the Red Cross. Since the branch reopened after the floods, a total of 60 new volunteers have been recruited and trained in Red Cross principles and humanitarian values.

Constraints:

Tangible and positive results have been achieved in efforts to strengthen the capacities of the assisted communities and of Red Cross branches in the border regions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. However, much still remains to be done, particularly regarding the capacity building of Red Cross branches in both countries. Renewed efforts to build capacities within the HNRCS in particular will become a top priority during 2005. Activities will be undertaken within the framework of the 2005 Annual Appeal for Haiti. Tropical Storm Jeanne has brought further devastation and suffering to the country. Therefore, the need to link emergency relief actions with longer-term recovery strategies and to scale up organization development activities within the HNRCS have become even more critical and will be prioritized next year.

Federation Coordination

Relief operations in the Dominican Republic and Haiti have been well coordinated and inclusive of all Partner National Societies present in the field, particularly the French, Netherlands and Spanish Red Cross Societies.

Effective cooperation and coordination mechanisms have also been established between the Federation and other aid organizations, enabling the main humanitarian players to avoid duplication of work and maximize the reach and positive impact of their collective efforts. Key partners in the field during this operation include UNICEF, WFP, PAHO, World Vision, Médecins sans Frontières and OXFAM among others. Coordination with local authorities and national civil society institutions in both the Dominic an Republic and Haiti has also been strong, helping to optimize the impact of aid.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- Principles and initiatives

The Federation is working together with the Haitian and Dominican Red Cross Societies to assist the most vulnerable communities affected by the floods. The planned operation, as well as search and rescue and all emergency assistance carried out to date, have been based upon the principle of humanity. Beneficiary selection criteria focused on the level of vulnerability of those affected, respecting the local cultures and ensuring gender sensitivity.

All activities planned for this Emergency Appeal were based on the Sphere project humanitarian charter and code of conduct for emergency response. All objectives presented in the appeal are in line with Strategy 2010, as well as the Strategy for the Movement and principles and rules of the Movement.

Community volunteers participating in the relief efforts have become familiar with the Red Cross principles and humanitarian values. In addition, as a result of the ongoing operation, solidarity has been developed between Haitians and Dominicans living in the border region.

Communications -- Advocacy and Public Information

With the support of the Federation, ongoing work will continue to ensure the visibility of the relief activities that are being led by the National Societies. The operation has been guided by the principles and rules relating to transparency in the compilation and dissemination of narrative and financial reports. A total of 11 Operations Updates have been issued up to now, including this one, which provides an overview of activities and consolidated figures of relief distributions from the onset of the disaster until now. Visibility materials including numerous photographs and news articles have been published and promotional banners and t-shirts have been printed and used during relief distributions.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

- In the Dominican Republic: Dominican Red Cross, Ligia Leroux, President; email cruz.roja@codetel.net.do, phone 1-809-238-5312, 1-809- 238-5252, fax 1-809-221-6716
- In Haiti: Haitian National Red Cross Society, Michaèle Amédée Gédéon, President; email croroha@haitiworld.com, phone 509-510-9813, fax 509223-1054
- In Panama: Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), Nelson Castaño, Head of PADRU; email ifrcpa07@ifrc.org, phone 507-316-1001, fax 507-316-1082
- In Geneva: Luis Luna, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department; email luis.luna@ifrc.org, phone 41-22-730-4274, fax 41-22-733-0395

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