Honduras Floods Situation Reprot No.5

Originally published
Inter-Agency field mission concludes its assessment

1. The Inter-Agency Assessment Mission (WFP, PAHO/WHO, UNDP) together with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team finished its three-day mission to the most affected areas in the Departments of Cortes, Atlantida, Colon and Yoro (northern Atlantic coast).

2. Weather conditions have improved significantly in the affected areas, with the flood waters receding and the rivers (Ulua, Chamelecon, Aguan and Lean) returning to their normal levels. However, some communities are still isolated, in particular in the municipality of St. Rosa de Aguan (with 2,581 inhabitants) where the relief teams have been experiencing some difficulties in providing assistance.

Assessment results

General overview

3. During the inter-agency field mission, which included members of the "Comision Permanente de Contigencias" (COPECO) and was assisted by the regional coordination structures, it was clarified that the population has been affected in both urban and rural areas (to different extent and with different priority needs). Some damage has been done to housing and the general infrastructure (electric supply system, roads and bridges). The water supply system is not operational and, to a great extent, the wells of sweet water have been contaminated by sewage waters. Some aqueducts have been damaged or destroyed. Thousands of ha of plantations (banana, pineapple, and african palm tree) as well as crops (rice, beans cassava, maize, sorgo) have been destroyed or severely damaged.

Effects on Population

4. Approximately 15,000 families have been affected (75, 000 people), of which 7,500 (37,500 people), are in great need of emergency assistance. The rural population is enduring the more serious situation, with their livelihood destroyed (houses, crops and tools) and loans to be reimbursed. They will only be able to work the land at the end of the rainy season (February, 1997), which implies relief food assistance for an extended period of time.


5. Housing

No significant damage to housing registered.

6. Roads

In the Department of Cortes the national highway suffered some damage, as well as 6 portions of local roads. According to the regional coordinating body "Comision de Emergencia Regional/CODER II", estimated damage amounts to Lempiras 9 million (USD approx. 500,000).

7. Bridges

10 bridges have structural damages, but some of them are operational.

8. Basic services

The electric supply system is now fully restored in the area hit by flooding. The water supply system has been substantially impaired, with wells and aqueducts severely damaged. Sweet water sources have been infiltrated by stagnant water, which have rendered them useless for human consumption.

9. Health

Concerning health, there is an emergency situation with the contamination of flood waters by waste and sewage, which increases the threat of malaria, dengue and cholera. Limitations in getting proper water for the daily hygiene increase this threat. Immediate disinfection of water with clorine, fumigation campaigns, drainage of stagnant/contaminated water and general clean up campaigns are urgently needed.

10. Agriculture

The area affected by the flooding is mainly agricultural land, and is economically very important for Honduras. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the harvest season is approaching. This reduces the possibility of a short/medium-term recovering. Estimated damage to this sector, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources - assessment in the Department of Atlantida and in municipalities of Sava, Tocoa (Department of Colon) and Olanchito (Department of Yoro) still to be completed - indicates:

Departments of Cortes, Yoro and Colon

Cultures Ha Losses (USD)
Maize 7,041 approx. 3,000, 000
Beans 183 approx. 70,381
Sorgo 160 approx. 56,272
Rice 1459 approx. 769, 476
Bananas 4,579 approx. 3,500,000
Total 13,422 approx. 7,700, 000

Immediate needs

11. The UNDAC mission identified immediate needs for approximately 7,500 families (37,500 people) in order of priorities:

Urban population (5,026 families/ 25,130 people) water supply system (water tanks and jerrycans) food supplies for 2 weeks (cash for local purchasing of milk for children, maize, rice, beans, soya, canned fish and edible oil) Household utensils (kitchens sets, mattresses and blankets) clothing tool sets (shovels, handcarts, picaxes and hoes) plastic sheets

Rural population (estimated 2,474 families/ 12,370 people) food supplies for 3 months (cash for local purchasing of milk for children, maize, rice, beans, soya, canned fish and edible oil) household utensils (kitchen sets, mattresses and blankets) seeds (rice, beans, maize) agricultural tools clothing

Health needs (for the overall population at risk- approximately 75,000 people): medical supplies against dengue, malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections skin diseases water disinfectants - chlorine plants pumps - ULV fog pumps insecticides bacteriologic analysis portable kits latrines water treatment plants

National Response

12. As referred to in previous DHA reports, the coordinating body for the overall relief operation is the "Comision Permanente de Contingencias" (COPECO), presided by the Designated President of the Republic. The COPECO carries out its action through regional and local mechanisms (CODER - Comision de Emergencia Regional/ CODEMunicipal/ CODELocal) under the Armed Forces coordination.

13. Until now, the Government has been delivering aid (food, plastic sheeting, clothing) using aerial and naval means in the areas of most difficult access. The participation of the private sector and local NGO's, in particular religious institutions, has been crucial in providing food supplies and clothing.

Red Cross activities

14. The national society has ben carrying out rescue, evacuation, first aid and health care efforts and in setting up temporary shelters among the most affected population in 11 municipalities of S. Pedro Sula, Puerto Cortes and Progresso. It has also distributed the following items: 3,000 pounds of milk, clothing, 500 sheets, chlorine boxes, 14,000 pounds of rice, 15,000 pounds of beans, 9,000 pounds of maize, sugar, butter. Honduras Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have launched an appeal for CHF 240,000.

International response

15. Contributions

New contributions since our situation report no. 4 of 4 December 1996:

United Kingdom through PAHO for vector control, water and sanitation USD 84,200

United States local purchase of relief commodities USD 25, 000

16. DHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cas contributions to be used during the immediate relief phase. Funds are spent in coordination with relevant organizations of the UN system, and DHA provides donor Governments with written confirmation on utilization of funds contributed.

17. Funds should be transferred to DHA account no. CO. 590.160.1 at Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: Honduras Floods, DHA, Geneva.

18. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform DHA, Geneva, as indicated below, of bilateral relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding value by item.

Telephone No: +41-22-917 12 34
In case of emergency only: +41 22 917 20 10
Desk Officers: Mr. Erik Haegglund, direct tel: +41 22 917
32 99 or Mr. Carlos Pereira, direct tel: +41 22 917 13 83
Press to contact: Ms. M. Moulin-Acevedo, direct tel: +41 22
917 28 56
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