El Salvador

Damage, Loss, and Needs Assessment for Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction after the low pressure system associated with Tropical Storm Ida

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Prepared by the Government of El Salvador with the support of the international community


Through t he use of the damage and loss assessment methodology developed by the Economic Commission for Latin america and the Caribbean (CEPAL) and the humanitarian and community needs assessment that incorporates methodologies of agencies of the United Nations System and UNDP for early recovery, the mission contributed elements for the government’s Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Strategy and Plan.

With the government’s leadership and in direct contact with the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Committee, as well as with the contribution of other ministries and relevant institutions, a detailed sectoral assessment was conducted. for this purpose, training and coordination workshops convened by the STP were conducted and conversations were held with several line ministers.

The number of disasters generated by natural events in El Salvador, according to data from national studies and those collected in international databases, as well as evaluations conducted by CEPAL, shows the high risk that the country faces, especially due to its economic and social vulnerability. Historical dataconfirm El Salvador’s high index of risk in the event of disasters and the heavy weight of climate events in this total, with costs in general not sufficiently measured. If database information is used, such as that from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at the University of louvain in belgium and the evaluations conducted by CEPal over the years (since 1972), the country has had nearly 6,500 deaths, with an economic cost that is only partially assessed and that could be over US$16 billion in 2008 dollars. of these events, those of a climate nature generated over 62% of deaths and between 87% and 95% of impacts, according to the source. Due to the limitation of the CEPAL sample and the fact that the economic assessment is partial and generally limited when the complete damage and loss methodology has not been used, the estimated economic impact could be less than 68% of the impact that actually occurred.

The event that took place on this occasion is associated with heavy precipitation totaling over 450 mm in a three-day period (November 7 to 9, 2009), with a maximum intensity of 355 mm in a five-hour period during which the landslides and catastrophe occurred. This figure corresponds to nearly five times the average precipitation expected for the month of November. The lahars that hurled down over Verapaz, where the greatest numbers of deaths took place, occurred in the early morning of November 8. based on historical data, it may be inferred that critical situations for disaster events with a large number of victims occur with relatively high frequency: every 10 to 30 years in the country, due to climate events.