Mexico: Post-hurricane flooding Appeal No. 22/03 Final Report


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In Brief

Appeal No. 22/03; Final Report; Period covered: 23 October 2003 to 23 January, 2004; Final appeal coverage: 41.7%.

Appeal history: Appeal launched on 23 October 2003 for CHF 735,000 (USD 552,522 or EUR 472,913) for 3 months to assist 39,000 beneficiaries.

Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 80,000 Related Emergency or Annual Appeals:

Background and Summary

One of the heaviest rainy seasons in years caused heavy flooding in September 2003 in cities and states throughout Mexico. As of October 2003, 188 municipalities in 14 states declared disaster areas. The 2003 Atlantic hurricane season hit Mexico particularly hard with three mid-size storms or hurricanes (Larry, Olaf and Nera) all impacting both the east and west coasts of Mexico during a period of two months. While no single event was of catastrophic dimensions, the combined effect resulted in the worst flooding in many years. The Mexican Red Cross (MRC) began delivering emergency items at the beginning of the floods and coordinated the relief effort throughout the course of the operation. Support was provided to the Mexican Red Cross by the Federation and the American Red Cross.

While there were no reported deaths, severe damage occurred to homes, crops and roads in the States of Chiapas, Guanajuato, and Jalisco. More than 12,000 houses in Jalisco, and 500 in the community of Tototlan, were damaged by the floods. In Guanajuato, more than 15,000 people were affected by the flooding, including particularly heavy damage in the communities of San Javier, Reforma, 1910, Nuevo México, Las Estancias and Los Sauces. In Nayarit, on the west coast of Mexico, the municipalities of San Blas and Santiago Ixcuntla were cut off from the rest of the country due to the severe weather, affecting more than 5,000 people. In Mexico State, some 560 houses in 3 municipalities were seriously damaged. In Chiapas State, 39,000 persons and 9,000 houses were affected by flooding. The MRC, in coordination with the government and local authorities, responded rapidly to each storm. The National Society was active in responding to the needs, delivering over 400,000 kg of humanitarian aid from its own resources and from government supplies. The assistance provided by the Mexican Red Cross came in the form of basic food items, drinking water and clothing, which was delivered by air, land and water.

On 23 October 2003, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an international appeal for CHF 735,000 (USD 552,522) in cash, kind and services to assist 39,000 beneficiaries, or approximately 7,750 families, for a period of 3 months. Despite the fact that during the first month of operations the appeal received only 15.26 percent coverage, the Federation, in coordination with the Mexican Red Cross, distributed relief goods to 6,587 families. The first distributions carried out included family kits, which consisted of kitchen kits and hygiene kits, as well as mattresses. Later, during the month of February, 5,000 school kits were distributed in the States of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán and Chiapas.


The distribution of humanitarian aid, under the coordination of the Mexican Red Cross, included the support of the American Red Cross and Federation team working in the area. The MRC worked with local and state government agencies involved in the relief effort including the National System for Family Development (DIF), Civil Defense, and local municipalities. All decisions relating to planning and activities were made in conjunction with these governmental bodies. In addition, the MRC attended inter-institutional meetings with representatives from the other operational agencies involved in order to enhance co-ordination, avoid duplication and maximize existing resources. The operation also included the efforts of the ICRC, which maintains an offic e in Mexico City, and a field presence in Chiapas, and the efforts of the Spanish and German Red Cross Societies, which implemented various projects in Chiapas.

Analysis of the operation

objectives, achievements, impact

The operation was focused on the immediate delivery of humanitarian assistance in the form of specifically targeted relief items that were provided to selected beneficiaries pending their return to their homes. The operation, developed in coordination with the MRC and local authorities, provided support to 7,750 families living in the States of Nayarit, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Chiapas. The overall coordination of the project was undertaken by the MRC, and staff and volunteers from the corresponding branches implemented activities. There was also a Federation presence in the form of a regional intervention team (RIT) to support the implementation of the project. The American Red Cross and other donor national societies provided support for specific activities and areas of the appeal.

When the operation concluded in January 2004, the final coverage of the appeal was only 41.7 percent. Despite this, the Federation and the Mexican Red Cross were able to carry out most the planned activities, and were able to provide relief to those affected by the flooding. This was due principally to the high capacity of the Mexican Red Cross to generate and receive support and contributions from the private sector within the country. In addition, a large number of contributions came from Mexican citizens residing in the United States, and were channelled through the American Red Cross. These private contributions helped to cover the costs of the relief efforts and allowed the operation to be completed successfully, despite the low appeal coverage.

Emergency relief (food and basic non-food items)

Objective: To provide relief items to 7,750 families for a period of 3 months.

The activities initially planned to meet the objective of providing relief items to 7,750 families included the delivery of 7,750 family packets (combined kitchen kit and hygiene kit) to 5,000 families in the most affected areas of Nayarit, Jalisco and Guanajuato (where the American Red Cross was coordinating distribution), and to another 2,750 families in Chiapas. The operation was also scheduled to include the delivery of 5,500 mattresses with bed sheets (2 per family) to 2,750 families in Chiapas. However, because of budgetary and logistical constraints, family packets were provided only to the families in Nayarit, Jalisco and Guanajuato, and mattresses were delivered to 1,587 families in Chiapas. In total, these relief items reached 6,587 families.

A total of 38,750 people in 4 states benefited from this operation. The selection of the communities was made in conjunction with local authorities and members of the MRC headquarters and the respective state branches. The selected communities were primarily farming families (among the most vulnerable) and were relatively accessible; an important consideration given the resources available. The capacity of the MRC to implement the operation was a key factor in reaching the number of communities included in the operation.

Some 5,000 family packets were distributed to the same number of families who were affected by the floods. The Federation and the Mexican Red Cross distributed 2,000 kitchen kits and 2,000 hygiene kits to families in Guanajuato, 1,200 kitchen kits and 1,200 hygiene kits to families in Jalisco and 1,800 kitchen kits and 1,800 hygiene kits to families in Nayarit. The Federation and the American Red Cross supported the shipment of family packets, with the coordination of the Mexican Red Cross.

In addition, 4,301 mattresses were distributed by the Mexican Red Cross. The number of families benefiting from these mattresses was 1,587. This was completed during 2 distributions to 11 selected communities in the State of Chiapas. A total of CHF 80,000 was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Emergency Fund (DREF) to start the activities planned, which were used to purchase 1,000 mattresses for distribution in Chiapas. The remainder of the mattresses distributed were financed by the Mexican Red Cross.

The following chart illustrates the distributions of relief items that were carried out:

Place of
Kind and quantity of
relief goods
Number of
Family Packets 2,000
(Kitchen and Hygiene)
2,000 families
Family Packets 1,800
(Kitchen and Hygiene)
1,800 families
Family Packets 1,200
(Kitchen and Hygiene)
1,200 families
1,587 families
6, 587 families

In addition to the delivery of these items, in February 5,000 school kits were distributed to 5,000 beneficiary children in 31 communities in the States of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán and Chiapas.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Mexican Red Cross were able to attend to the needs of 5,000 families in the States of Guanajuato, Jalisco and Nayarit with the distribution of kitchen and hygiene kits. In Chiapas, they were able to meet the needs of an additional 1,587 families with supplies of mattresses. Furthermore, 5,000 children in Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán and Chiapas received essential school materials.


Despite the low coverage of the appeal, the Mexican Red Cross, with the support of the Federation, was able to provide assistance to 6,587 families, with the help of private contributions.

Advocacy and protection

The MRC and the operations of the Red Cross Movement throughout the country achieved a high level of visibility in both the national and international media. In addition, press releases and information bulletins reflecting the situation in the country were published on the Federation's webpage ( The relief operation illustrated to the MRC the need to improve the flow of information, as well as the standards and quality of information in order to achieve better visibility in the future, to which the National Society is committed.

The operation was based upon the principle of humanity; beneficiary selection criteria focused on the level of vulnerability of those affected, respect of the culture of the beneficiaries, and ensuring gender sensitivity.

Activities planned for the appeal were based on the SPHERE project humanitarian charter and the code of conduct for emergency response.

National Society Capacity Building

The Mexican Red Cross received support from the team that was made up of volunteers from 450 branches. The MRC also received support from the international network of Red Cross National Societies, the Federation and the ICRC. The MRC maintained a positive image in the communities where the relief operations were developed, and is recognized throughout the country as a key actor in disaster response. The MRC also organized cooperation agreements with other organizations at the local and national level.

In order to strengthen the capacity of the National Society to respond to disasters, standardized formats were proposed that would define communication procedures and would establish permanent communication channels so that information flow is constant and rapid.

Lessons learned

The MRC recognizes the need to be more prepared for disasters and to plan more effectively for this type of operation. With this in mind, the MRC has acknowledged the need to establish and apply rules and regulations for disaster response, to strengthen the channels of communication and coordination, to define priorities and to provide forums for discussion and feedback regarding operations.

Mexico - floods (APPEAL No. 22/2003)





For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Mexico: Isaac Oxenhaut, Disaster Coordinator, Mexican Red Cross; email; phone (5255) 5395-5605; fax (5255) 5395-2306

In Panama: Nelson Castaño, Head of PADRU, email, phone (507) 316-1001, fax (507) 316-1082

In Panama: Gilberto Guevara, Head of Panama Regional Delegation; email, phone (507) 317-1300, fax (507) 317-1304

In Geneva: Luis Luna, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email, phone (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

For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.

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