Ecuador Drought Situation Report No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: DHAGVA - 97/0068

General situation

1. As a consequence of a prolonged period of low rainfall in the south-west of Ecuador, an acute drought has developed in the Provinces of Loja and El Oro, bordering with Peru. The situation has come to a point where local and national resources are insufficient to cope with the effects produced by this phenomenon.

2. The most affected areas in the Province of Loja are the counties of Celica, Macara, Puyango, Pindal, Sozoranga and Zapotillo. In the province of El Oro the situation is critical in the counties of Arenillas, Las Lajas and Huaquillas. Of a total of 130,000 people living in the affected counties, 58% live in the rural area, depending on small farming (corn, coffee, beans, sugar cane, vegetables, banana.) and cattle raising.

3. According to Civil Defense, 34,000 persons have been affected by the drought most of whom live in poor rural communities. Chronic malnourishment and poverty levels in the affected area are below national average. The affected population has lost its source of income and approximately 8,000 persons have migrated to other areas during the last semester.

4. Meteorological conditions remain critical. During the last semester, accumulated rainfall was barely 7% of normal average. Migration is expected to continue at a faster pace, and malnourishment, specially in the case of women and children, will be probably accentuated.

Priority needs

5. According to the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UN-DMT), and NGO's involved in this emergency, the priority needs are as follows:

  • Food rations for "Food-for-Work" programme;
  • Funds for improvement of water conservation and storage capacity in 80 communities. This would include provision of water containers (large 5 to 10 cubic meters for community use, and small 3 to 10 gallons for family use),repair work of water harnessing systems and manual pumps, and provision of watering hoses;
  • Acquisition of 10 higher capacity water pumps to increase the supply of water out of existing wells;
  • Drilling of deeper wells (funds for renting drilling equipment);
  • Building materials for the construction of 80 water reservoirs at community level;
  • Medicines: antibiotics and oral re-hydration solutions;
  • Seeds: corn, peanuts, beans;
  • Funds for rehabilitation and cleanup of irrigation channels and ditches.
National response

6. Following the Presidential Declaration of State of Emergency for the Province of Loja, the Government as issued an appeal for international assistance to meet the most immediate needs.

7. The Catholic Church made a collection for the affected population which amounted to seventy million sucre (approximately U.S.$18,900). This is being used to provide health services and medicines in Zapotillo and Cariamanaga counties. In addition to this, small projects to pipe water from springs to the communities are being supported.

United Nations response

8. UNDP: An integrated rural development project directed to the poorest three thousand people- out of 30,000 which suffer from severe malnutrition was initiated in February 1996 in collaboration with CONADE (National Development Council). The project focuses on food production, irrigation schemes, reforestation, environment preservation, water and sanitation, education, basic health, and productive activities. Out of 50 projects elaborated, 10 are under execution.The project is implemented under the modality of full community participation and self help.

9. PAHO/WHO: A four-year health project for the province of Loja is presently being negotiated with the Ministry of Health. One component of this project refers to drought vulnerability reduction. PAHO's Representative and three professionals have provided technical assistance needed in the affected area.

10. UNDP/WFP: A joint school feeding programme with the Ministry of Education is presently being executed in the province of Loja. More than seven thousand children and 370 teachers are the beneficiaries of this program.

11. WFP/UNESCO/UNICEF/UNIFEM: The Program for the Improvement of Economic Conditions for Rural Women (PROCALMUC) is also being executed in the province of Loja.

12. DHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions, to be used during the immediate relief phase, in coordination with relevant organizations of the UN system. DHA provides donor Governments with written confirmation on utilization of the funds contributed. Contributions may also be made directly to individual UN agencies.

13. Donors wishing to channel contributions through DHA may transfer funds to DHA account no. CO.590.160.1 at Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: Ecuador- Drought.

14. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform DHA Geneva of bilateral relief missions/ pledges/ contributions and their corresponding values by item.

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