On 19 December, an earthquake of 5.8 magnitude hit the northwest part of Ecuador in Esmeraldas province with epicenter in Atacames. Subsequently, 144 aftershocks took place in the area.
More than 4,000 people have been affected (including 3 people dead), while 145 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
Local working groups were immediately activated in order to respond.
One new official IDP camp settled, and 15 additional informal shelters set up. Heavy rains in the area hampers humanitarian response.
The State of Emergency has been extended to 13 March 2017 in Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces.
UNICEF is currently focusing on the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and sector coordination, while provision of safe water and sanitation continues in official and informal shelters when requested. UNICEF will keep conducting hygiene promotion campaigns, solid waste activities and vector control activities, especially in rural areas (specific vector control activities, for the prevention of ZIKV have been transferred to the regular program). Whereas UNICEF initially focused on psychosocial assistance to children, their families and first line responders at the outset of the emergency, it is important to now give priority to supporting families with protective environments and strengthening institutional and community capacity on violence prevention and response.
At this stage of emergency, UNICEF is applying its methodology for tracing children out-of-school, adopted by the Government, to assure inclusion of all children in schools in the affected areas. Seven months after the earthquake, the response and recovery will be focused mainly on rural areas which have received less humanitarian assistance. One noteworthy fact: the onset of the rainy season currently hampers the humanitarian response. Meanwhile, transition strategies are also being identified in each sector to support the phases of rehabilitation, reconstruction, resilience and disaster risk reduction.