Guyana: Floods Appeal No. 05EA001 Operations Update No. 5


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In Brief

Appeal No. 05EA001; Operations Update no. 5; Period covered: 15 April to 24 June, 2005; Appeal coverage: 68.9%;

Appeal history:

fLaunched on 24 January for CHF 2,042,000 (USD 1,721,727 or EUR 1,320,872) for 8 months to assist 30,000 beneficiaries (6,000 families).

- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 300,000.

- The appeal has been extended by two months, therefore closing on 24 September. The budget has been revised in line with funding received.

Outstanding needs: None

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Caribbean Sub Regional Programmes Annual Appeal 05AA041, Hurricane Ivan Emergency Appeal 21/2004 Operational Summary: While the majority of the emergency relief operation has now been concluded, the Guyana Red Cross Society (GRCS) continues its work on community health messages and disaster preparedness activities. In order to allow the time to ensure that these activities are completed to their full potential, the appeal has been extended by a further two months. The Guyana Red Cross Society has reached over 11,500 families, providing them with food and non food relief items , which supported them through the severe flooding, helped them clean their homes and prevent serious outbreaks of water borne diseases. Some relief items in the form of hygiene kits and kitchen sets are still being distributed. In the communities, ongoing and planned activities include community based first aid and disaster preparedness training and continuing health and hygiene talks . To date, the GRCS has conducted over 30 community health sessions, which have been well received, with the GRCS continuing to receive requests for more of these talks. The GRCS is also working to procure much needed disaster response supplies, provide psychosocial support training for staff and volunteers, install radio communications equipment and examine lessons learned. Currently, Guyana is in the middle of its rainy season, but to date there has been no sign of any significant flooding. At the beginning of May, the Federation recruited an operations coordinator to oversee the activitie s in the appeal.


Three days of torrential rains which began on 14 January caused serious flooding in Guyana, affecting more than 200,000 people. This was the third time since late December 2004 that rains caused flooding in the country's capital, Georgetown, and other coastal towns. After a day of relative sunshine the rains started again on 22 January causing increased flooding in many parts of the country, including the capital and surrounding areas. Whilst the main airport continued to function, the Municipal Airport was temporarily forced to close and the state owned radio station ceased to operate. Furthermore, the heavy rains cut off some areas along the eastern coast of the country. Houses were completely flooded and many businesses were forced to close in an effort to protect their goods. Government offices, courts and schools were also forced to close. In the eastern coastal region of the country, roads were flooded and impassable. In some areas, more than two feet of water were covering the roads, making several communities unreachable for rescue teams.

Georgetown and the surrounding area are divided into two districts: Demerara-Mahaica and West Demerara-Essequibo Islands, both of which were declared "disaster areas" by the Guyanese government. The district of Mahaica-Berbice, which is located on the east coast of the country, to the southeast of Georgetown, was also declared a disaster area. The hardest hit communities are Albouystown, Shopia, Better Hope, Coldingen, Enterprise Gardens, Paradise and Enmore. Many residents in these areas live in poverty and the severe flooding has further exacerbated their already precarious situation. Thousands of people were displaced by the floods and forced to seek refuge in one of the shelters set up in East Coast Demerara by the Guyana Defence Force. The GRCS headquarters was also transformed into an emergency shelter, assisting those in need from the surrounding area. Tens of thousands more were affected by the floods and were in urgent need of potable water and food. The Guyanese government initially released 200 million Guyanese dollars (approximately USD 1,120,448 or CHF 1,332,025) for emergency relief. On 20 January, a telethon was held in Berbice County; money and food supplies from which were channelled through the Guyana Red Cross Society (GRCS).

There was serious concern of an increase of water borne diseases; however, due to the quick and effective coordination of the Red Cross, the government and other agencies in providing disease preventative messages, the number of people affected was far less than had been feared.

The Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) deployed a team leader and a water and sanitation delegate to Guyana; the regional health delegate was also in the country; and five regional intervention team (RIT) members also travelled to Guyana to ensure support for the National Society.

CHF 300,000 was released from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in order to facilitate prompt mobilization of relief goods from PADRU.

- In Panama, Nelson Castaño, Pan American Disaster Response Unit, email, phone (507 316 1001), Fax (507 316 1082)

- In Geneva: Luis Luna, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva, email, Phone

Operational developments

Flood waters have now receded from all previously affected areas. It is currently the rainy season, which normally lasts throughout May and June. To date there have been no reported cases of any significant flooding.

The government of Guyana received some USD 6 million in cash, in-kind donations and aid from a number of countries. In March, the president of Guyana announced an initial USD 14 million package to help flood-affected communities and sectors to recover from the floods. The government established a "Recovery Planning and Implementation Secretariat", to administer these government grants and has now almost reached its target population of 70,000 households who were eligible for this grant of 10,000 Guyanese dollars (approximately USD 50). The same Secretariat has also stared administering a USD 1.2 million grant for agricultural relie f as well as USD 0.2 million to affected small businesses.

For the majority of the population, life has almost returned to normal. Most of the evacuated populations have returned home, some farmers have started planting again and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO office has assured visitors that Guyana is safe to visit.

For the Guyana Red Cross Society, the majority of the emergency relief operation has now been concluded. The Guyana Red Cross Society has reached over 11,000 families, providing them with food and non food relief items, which supported them through the most severe flooding, helped them clean their homes and contributed to preventing serious outbreaks of water borne diseases. Some relief items in the form of hygiene packs and kitchen sets are still being distributed. Their distribution has been delayed to ensure further needs assessments. These remaining items are now being distributed via the Guyana Red Cross Society's social welfare programme, ensuring they reach some of the most vulnerable people in Guyana.

The current focus, therefore, is on preparing both the affected communities and the GRCS to be in a stronger position and better prepared in case of similar disasters. In the communities, this includes community based first aid and disaster preparedness training and the continuation of health and hygiene talks in the affected communities. Better preparedness for the GRCS includes enhancing capacity by ensuring that the National Society is better physically equipped in case of future disasters, further psychosocial support training for staff and volunteers, installing and training the National Society in radio communications and logistics, and conducting a le ssons learned review. In order to ensure all these activities are fulfille d to the best advantage, the appeal has been extended by a further two months.

At the beginning of May, a head of operation was recruited, who is now based in Guyana to oversee the remaining activities in the work plan.

The first phase of the German Red Cross bilateral project developed with the GRCS was completed and the German Red Cross is now focusing on a community health centre, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, targeting pregnant women and women with children less than two years of age.

Solidarity among the Caribbean and overseas-based Guyanese has been strong and the Guyana Red Cross Society continues to receive significant amounts of cash and in-kind private donations.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Guyana: Guyana Red Cross Society, Dorothy Fraser, General Director, email, phone +(592) 227 5190, Fax +(592) 225 2525

In Guyana: Tanya Wood, Federation Head of Operations, email , phone + (592) 226 5174, Fax (592) 225 2525

In Trinidad & Tobago, Coordinator, Julia Brothwell, email, phone (868) 735 0858, Fax (868) 627 9627 (41) 22 730 4274; Fax (41) 22 733 0395

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