ACT Appeal Hungary: Emergency Flood Relief - EUHU-11


Appeal Target: US$ 365,225
Balance Requested from ACT Network: US$ 225,225

Geneva, 21 March 2001

Dear Colleagues,

Three countries in Europe have been affected by the overflowing of the river Tisza. Hungarian, Romanian and Ukrainian populations living close to the Tisza were forced to leave their homes and seek shelter either within their own regions or in neighboring countries.

Compared to the magnitude of the disaster, the initial response by the Hungarian Government appears unable to meet the immediate needs of the affected and displaced population who are left without minimum living conditions.

ACT member Hungarian Interchurch Aid/HIA is already assisting the most vulnerable families affected by the floods in Ukraine. They also seek to continue supporting the population of Eastern Hungary that fled the flood sites to seek shelter in other parts of the country.

In the first phase of their proposed program, HIA is proposing to provide the humanitarian aid in the following manner:

  • Distribution of drinking water and food
  • Distribution of clothes and blankets
  • Distribution of hygiene items
  • Psycho-social assistance

At a later stage, HIA will assist the most affected with shelter/rehabilitation activities. ACT member Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) is currently preparing a project proposal, therefore this appeal will be revised shortly to include their proposal.

Project Completion Date: 20 September 2001

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested in US$

Total Appeal Target(s)
Less: Pledges/Contr. Recd.
Balance Requested from ACT Network

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 102539/0.01.061 (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
Banque Edouard Constant
Cours de Rive 11
Case postale 3754
1211 Genève 3

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

ACT Web Site address:

Ms. Geneviève Jacques
WCC/Cluster on Relations
Thor-Arne Prois
ACT Coordinator
Rev. Rudolf Hinz
LWF/World Service

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


  • Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA)


Hungarian Interchurch Aid, a charitable organisation of high public utility and of ecumenical spirituality, was founded in 1991 with the intention of providing assistance to those in need regardless of gender, race, nationality and religion. The General Assembly is HIA’s most important decision-making body, representing all the Hungarian Protestant and Orthodox Churches and also various organisations, foreign and national individuals. Hungarian Interchurch Aid concentrates its activity in three operational areas:

  • domestic social activities in HIA’s regional centres around Hungary
  • emergency assistance
  • refugee affairs

As an ACT-member HIA has been implementing emergency programs in the Balkan, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine since its establishment in 1991. In 1999 - for the very first time - and also in 2000 HIA implemented two significant emergency programs within Hungary. Experiences gained during HIA’s ten years of international activity have been utilised in implementing its relief programs. During these activities HIA rendered immediate help to the victims of the flooding caused by heavy rainfalls - the program activities had three phases:
  • immediate humanitarian assistance (provision of food, hygiene items for the evacuated population in 27 villages)
  • dehumidifying and disinfecting private houses
  • reconstructing 250 private houses

For the program implementation HIA opened field offices in two locations (Olaszliszka/Northern-Hungary and Szolnok/Central-Hungary) in order to facilitate program activities.

The total amount allocated for the two HIA emergency programs in 1999 and 2000 was about USD 360,000 .



The River Tisza - 966 km, 157,220 km² - is the largest Danube tributary. From its total length about 160 km lies in the Ukraine and Romania and about 800 km in the Great Hungarian Plain (650 km in Hungary, 150km in Yugoslavia). Flooding throughout the Tisza catchment area is a major problem - the floods of winter (1998/99) caused millions of dollars of damage in Slovakia, Romania, the Ukraine and Hungary. The frequency and severity of flooding would appear to be worsening in terms of human health and economic losses.

The extent of river control projects undertaken during the last century have clearly had an adverse effect on parts of the Tisza catchment areas. A large number of dams, dikes and other hydraulic structures have inevitably caused changes in flow patterns and damage to the functions of the river system.

Flooding within the Tisza catchment areas is a major problem and consequently there is a need for a holistic approach to flood management. Such a holistic approach must be based on multilateral and international co-operation and planning for the whole catchment areas.

The Hungarian Prime Minister who toured the flooded area, reported that it had been the cutting down of trees in the Ukraine and Romania that was to blame for the record floods hitting Hungary for the fourth year in a row. Officials say worse troubles have been avoided by setting up a joint water monitoring system with Ukraine and Romania in December, mainly with Hungarian financing.

In Hungary, efforts were well under way to build a second line of defence, as 36 km of dikes were built after last years floods, however a distance of 15 km has not yet been finished.

The current catastrophe will have a long-term influence on the development of the poorest region of Hungary with a significant part of the population belonging to the Roma minority.

Current situation

In the first days of March 2001 a fatal combination of heavy rains, melting snow and burst dikes has left areas of Eastern Hungary prone to severe flooding, especially in those areas where dikes have not been finished.

Rising waters on the three rivers Tisza, Tur and Szamos, forced emergency services to use boats to reach homes ringed by muddy water as high as one metre (three feet).

From the beginning of the week 35,000 people have been evacuated from 20 villages by the River Tisza. 20,000 houses are still, or were under water for several days, as 180 million m³ of water has inundated 130 km².

According to the official data of 11 March 2001, 3,440 houses are still under water and 178 houses have collapsed, but the number is growing as most buildings are adobe houses.

The main road between the villages of Takos and Csaroda, near the Ukrainian border, was also demolished in two places, allowing floodwaters to flow into to low-lying areas.

Agricultural lands are inundated with autumn seedlings rotting. Newly planted forests will also rot in the coming weeks. Game and small livestock have suffered significant losses due to the high water level.

90 % of the population lives on agriculture - household farming, keeping domestic animals (hens, chicken, pig, sheep, cow). There are villages (e.g. Gulács, total population 1,132) where 90 % of these animals have died due to flooding.

Veterinary officials also fear many farm animals that have been left behind in villages may die of starvation and rotting carcasses could pose a health problem.

On 6 and 7 March a major evacuation of 20 villages took place with people being transported to appointed, receptive settlements. However, a number of the population ignored the evacuation order and refused to leave their homes preferring to remain to protect their homes and livestock.

The majority of the evacuated population have been accommodated in community buildings, schools, kindergartens, church premises, etc., others have found shelter with private families. Local municipalities are providing basic assistance - food and shelter - for those accommodated in community buildings.

The population have been vaccinated against diseases, and vaccination of livestock has been started in an attempt to avoid epidemics.

Currently, many of the evacuated population are not waiting for the official decision from the authorities, but are leaving the evacuation centres and trying to return home. This is very dangerous, as public utilities and houses have been so damaged, that they are a hazard to human life.

According to authorities people can start returning home within 2 weeks, presuming that there is no further flooding. However, a further danger has been identified - there are two, or three places, between the River Tisza and the Ukrainian border (Tiszaadony, Tiszakerecseny) in the same district where dikes are likely to burst in the coming days causing incalculable damages to nearby villages.

So far resettlements have started for 5 villages: Tiszadob, Tarpa, Beregdaróc, Beregsurány, Márokpapi.

Recipient village
Evacuated village
Current situation in evacuated villages
No of persons evacuated
Place of accommodation
Provided provisions
Tiszavid, Tiszaszalka, Tiszaadony
Surrounded by water
Youth hostel
Hygiene items, clothing
Partly inundated
School, kindergarden, church premises
Hygiene items
surrounded by water
36 persons in community places, others in private homes
Food (not enough), hygiene for one week
Food, clothing (underwear)
Lónya, Tarpa
Lónya endangered,
Tarpa inundated
Hygiene items, clothing, napkins for babies
Community buildings
Hygiene items, clothing
isolated by the water
Community buildings
Hygiene items, clothing
Tákos and other villages
Tákos inundated
40 people stayed in the village
60 persons in community buildings, 170 in private homes
Food (only for community places)
Food and hygiene items, clothing
Csaroda, Gergelyiugornya, Lónya
Csaroda, Gergelyiugornya inundated, Lónya endangered
75 % in community buildings, 25 % in private houses
Food, hygiene items, clothing
210 persons
Community buildings
Hygiene items, clothing
Beregsurány, Barabás
Both villages inundated
Community building
Food, hygiene items items
Food and hygiene items
Community building
Food ( not enough
Food and hygiene items
Community building
Food (not enough)
Community building
Food (not enough)


Hungarian Interchurch Aid wishes to provide humanitarian assistance for the victims of the floods in the following forms:

- Immediate humanitarian assistance - water, food, hygiene items - for

  • evacuated population, currently staying in community buildings, not longer than 4 - 5 days - food, hygiene items, clothing
  • people who have stayed in their homes, or have returned unofficially to those villages that are still, or were isolated by the water and to population returning home - non-perishable food parcels and hygiene kits

- Psycho Social Assistance - carried out by social workers and theological students - for evacuated population accommodated in community buildings, ,

- Rehabilitation of private houses in villages that were inundated by water, and retrieving personal properties and livestock.

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