By Melissa Monzon
“Thanks to the help of the Red Cross we will be able to protect our health, now not only from COVID, but also from volcanic ashfall. We hadn´t received help; we will use the tools to cultivate and for construction. This help is great, these tools will help us a lot”, says Agustin Chicaiza, a resident from the Laime Capulispungo community in Chimborazo, Ecuador.
Like Agustin, many families in the community have been affected with the volcanic ash fall from the Sangay, whose activity increased since early hours of September 20 of this year. Therefore, the Ecuadorian Red Cross activated the Early Action Protocol (EAP), which allow them to immediately assist families in the most affected rural communities in the following days.
“The Forecast-based Financing mechanism has allowed us to activate our first Early Action Protocol for volcanic ashfall. Thanks to the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross, the German Red Cross and the Climate Center, from Ecuadorian Red Cross we have provided humanitarian assistance to a thousand families from the communities of Totorillas, Laime, and Cebadas that have been affected by volcanic ashfall from the Sangay volcano”, complements Maria Fernanda Ayala, specialist in Geographic Information Systems of the National Program of Risk Management of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.
The EAP aims to establish adequate early action, using ash dispersal and deposition forecasts, which benefit the most vulnerable families in the most affected areas. On this occasion, after the increase in Sangay activity, the Ecuadorian Red Cross carried out an analysis where it crossed variables such as response capacity, vulnerability, exposure and ash dispersion and ashfall forecasts from the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (IGEPN), and decided to activate the EAP on the same day, September 20, at night. This shows how the forecasts allow the Red Cross to respond in advance.
Also, the EAP allowed an economic distribution to be distributed, through the Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) program, where families receive an IFRC card with an amount that will help them cover their basic needs and protect their livelihoods. “Through the CVA program, people have the freedom to buy their materials, they really cover the needs they have due to the damage caused by volcanic ash and they can take early actions. They are given a debit card, and this money is intended as a complementary help. They were told how to withdraw the money from the ATM and where to redirect it (protection of livestock, crops and protection of their health)”, says Luis Alberto Rocano, Zone 3 Coordinator of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.
Through Early Action Protocols, the Red Cross can access funds immediately so that they are prepared and pre-positioned for these types of events. In the case of this EAP, health kits and livelihood protection (tarps and tools) kits were distributed to 142 families from the Laime Capulispungo community and 317 families from the Laime San Carlos community, and debit cards were delivered to 378 families in the communities of Laime Capulispungo and Totorillas, in Chimborazo.
“The Red Cross has had a caring heart, is a great help for this disaster that we are experiencing, this help will be of great use to us”, says Armando Daiquelema, resident of the Totorillas community.