Panama

Panama: Floods DREF Bulletin no. MDRPA002 Final Report

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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

In Brief

Period covered by this Final Report: 27 November, 2006 to 27 January 2007.

History of this Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF)-funded operation:

- CHF 69,509 (USD 55,607 or EUR 43,716) allocated from the Federations DREF on 27 November 2006 to respond to the needs of this operation.

- This operation was expected to be implemented in 2 months, and completed by 27 January 2007. In line with Federation reporting standards, the DREF Bulletin Final Report (narrative and financial) is due 90 days after the end of the operation (by 27 April 2007).

Financial Report will be attached shortly

The International Federation undertakes activities that are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background and Summary

Unexpected severe and long-lasting rains were reported since 11 November in the eastern part of the province of Panama (Panama East) causing significant flooding in the districts of Pacora and Chepo. The heavy rains further affected some areas that were still recovering from bad weather and subsequent damages at the end of October 2006.

The unstable conditions continued and on 19 November - worsened by a cold front - brought heavier rains to regions that were already saturated with water, causing even more flooding. On 23 November, a National State of Emergency was declared due to floods in the province of Colón (Costa Abajo and Costa Arriba), the Kuna Yala indigenous region, the north of the province of Coclé and the north, west and east areas of the province of Panama. It is estimated that 12 people died and more than 4,800 families (24,000 people) were directly affected by these floods. More than 799 homes were damaged - of which more than 247 were completely destroyed. At least 1,253 people were evacuated to temporary shelters.

The Red Cross Society of Panama has been involved in this emergency in the provinces of Colón, Coclé and Panama.

In the province of Colón, floods were reported in several communities of Costa Arriba and Costa Abajo causing severe damage to houses, schools, health centres, and infrastructure (inaccessible roads and destroyed bridges). The capital of the province underwent similar floods and strong winds, although not on the same scale as in the areas mentioned above. More than 2,900 families were affected in this province and part of the population had to be evacuated to temporary shelters.

In the province of Coclé, the severe rains mainly affected the Atlantic coast, as well as the Coclé Norte and Coclesito areas. The overflowing rivers, along with landslides and destruction of the basic infrastructure (destroyed bridges and highways), caused difficulties in accessing the area around the mountains. In this province it was estimated that more than 1,160 families were affected.

In the province of Panama, the heavy rains severely affected the western part of the province. Landslides as a result of the flooding caused natural dikes, which worsened the problems with the increased water levels. In this province, more than 740 families were affected by the floods and landslides. The flooding caused severe damages to houses, schools and infrastructure, as well as to the water supply system of the districts of Arraiján, Chorrera and Capira. Due to the strong winds the Red Cross volunteers experienced some difficulties with search and rescue (SAR) and evacuation activities. Significant flooding in the eastern part of the province of Panama in the districts of Pacora and Chepo has affected over 50 families.

The dry season has set in and water levels have considerably receded, which has allowed villagers to gradually return to their normal lives and seasonal activities. An inter-institutional commission was formed by the Ministry of Housing (Ministerio de Vivienda- MIVI), the Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación - MEF) and the Ministry of Public Works (Ministerio de Obras Públicas- MOP) in order to accelerate the rehabilitation phase in terms of repairing schools, houses, public infrastructure, etc.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Panama: José Béliz, Director General, Red Cross Society of Panama; e-mail; cruzroja@pa.gbnet.cc; Phone (507) 315 189 or 680 3455; fax (507) 315 1401.

In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Head, Pan American Disaster Response Unit; e-mail Stephen.McAndrew@ifrc.org, phone (507) 316-1001; fax (507) 316-1082.

In Geneva: Luis Luna, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; e-mail Luis.Luna@ifrc.org, phone 41-22-730-4274; fax 41-22-733-0395.

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org