Paraguay: Drought 2009 DREF Operation No. MDRPY007

Situation Report
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Glide No. DR-2009-000104-PRY

The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

CHF 237,515 (USD 218,944 or EUR 156,360) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Paraguayan Red Cross in delivering immediate assistance to some 5,500 beneficiaries. Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

Summary: On 11 May 2009, the Paraguayan government declared a state of emergency due to the drought affecting the departments of Concepción, Ñeembucú, Presidente Hayes, Boquerón and Alto Paraguay. Approximately 185,000 people are affected by lack of basic resources. This DREF operation will provide assistance to 1,100 families in the areas of Concepcion and Ñeembucú through the distribution of food items and seeds for the rehabilitation of crops.

This operation is expected to be implemented over three months, and will therefore be completed by 25 August, 2009; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 25 November, 2009).

The situation

Since the first trimester of 2009, Paraguay has been facing an extreme cyclical drought. On 11 May, the Paraguayan government declared the departments of Concepcion, Ñeembucú, Presidente Hayes, Boquerón and Alto Paraguay in a state of emergency in order for the affected population (mostly indigenous groups and farmers) to start implementing preventive measures. Changing weather conditions as a result of the El Niño and La Niña phenomena and uncontrolled deforestation in the Chaco region are a few of the causes that have affected the rivers, which constitute the main water supply systems of the region. El Niño and La Niña are the names given to changes in the winds, atmospheric pressure, and seawater that occur in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator. They are the extremes in a vast repeating cycle called the Southern Oscillation, El Niño being the warm extreme and La Niña the cold extreme.

The drought is not only decreasing the availability of water supply for the region, but is also affecting the agricultural sector.

According to the National Emergency Secretariat (Secretaría de Emergencia Nacional - SEN) more than 60 per cent of the population in the affected areas live below the poverty line. The most vulnerable groups are the indigenous communities with insufficient land to cultivate and generate the income to afford basic necessities. The drought has deteriorated the population's basic livelihoods as communities have temporarily lost the ability to produce their own food and secure their own water supply.