Because of the hardship caused by a persistent drought in northern Paraguay and aggravated by frosts and fires, the National Society will provide a two month food package to 26,800 people in the worst hit communities. The supplies should tide them over until the next rainy season, in June.
Since June 1999 a drought has been affecting the north of Paraguay and in particular the Departments of Concepcion, San Pedro and Chaco Central. The area suffered further setbacks from frosts in May and June last year and fires that burned pastures. There is an acute water shortage not only for farming and livestock but also for human consumption. Rains are not expected before June this year at the earliest. The current climatic conditions are unstable, with temperatures reaching over 35°C. The Government of Paraguay declared a state of emergency last September. The Paraguayan Red Cross successfully carried out an operation for fire victims last October, providing food to 17,315 persons with funds made available from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. Because the drought shows no immediate signs of breaking, the Paraguayan Red Cross is seeking assistance to provide food to 26,800 persons in the most severely affected communities -- Boqueron, Alto Paraguay and Presidente Hayes -- which have a total population of 34,800.
The Response so far
The National Emergency Committee has provided some food and seeds and together with local officials is assisting in providing potable water, using tanker trucks.
Red Cross/Red Crescent Action
The Paraguayan Red Cross is drawing up a plan of action for the use of a donation of US$ 25,000 to assist the community of Boqueron with food and the digging of wells. It is also working with the Spanish Red Cross in the Department of Concepcion, providing food to 8,533 families with funds from ECHO amounting to CHF 535,000. This project will finish this month.
Other Agencies' Action
OCHA has provided a cash grant of CHF 33,000 for water pumps. The Government of Japan supplied water tanks, water purifiers and health kits valued at CHF 173,000. Catholic Relief Services has provided CHF 63,500 to local churches for food supplies. The Lions Club donated CHF 16,500 for the local purchase of food.
The Paraguayan Red Cross is co-ordinating its activities with the National Emergency Committee and with NGOs.
The Intended Operation
Assessment of Needs
The assessment of needs was carried out by the National Emergency Committee with assistance from the Paraguayan Red Cross. The surveys were slow due to the large areas to be covered and the lack of a 4X4 vehicle. The immediate needs are for safe water, food and medicines.
Red Cross Objectives
Since the Government and UN agencies are addressing the needs for water and medicines the Paraguayan Red Cross will take on the distributions of food. The objective:
- To provide 26,800 persons (5367 families) in the departments of Boqueron and Alto Paraguay with a food parcel for 2 months.
Emergency Phase: April to June 2000
The food basket will include 20kg. each of rice and wheat flour, 10 kg. each of pasta, beans and sugar, 5 litres of oil and a package of local tea. Due to the distances and the shortage of transport, one single distribution will be made.
Capacity of the National Society
The National Society has proved in the recent past (November 1999) that it has sufficient staff and volunteers to carry out this programme. It has sufficient warehouse space but will need to rent trucks for the distributions. In some cases the local governments will assist with the transport.
Present Capacity of the Federation
The Paraguayan Red Cross will be assisted throughout the operation by the Regional Delegation in Buenos Aires. The Federation is advancing to the National Society CHF 100,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.
See Annex 1 for details (pdf* format).
Didier J. Cherpitel
Acting Under Secretary General
Disaster Response & Operations Coordination
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