BUREAU FOR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE (BHR)
OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)
Background: Over the last two months, above normal rainfall caused by the 1997-98 El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), has precipitated a number of disasters in Peru, including flashfloods, mudslides, avalanches and sea surges. Transportation infrastructure, agricultural production, housing, and water and sanitation systems throughout the country have sustained severe damage. While coastal areas have received the most severe impacts, a number of in-land communities have been cut off due to flooding, and are accessible only by helicopter and, in some cases, boat.
Current Situation and Numbers Affected: It is generally recognized that this 1997-98 ENSO has already surpassed the 1982-83 event in terms of impact and extent, having affected areas not directly connected to prior events. Last week multiple events took place in the coastal areas of the departments of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque (capital Chiclayo), La Libertad (capital Trujillo) and Ancash (capital Chimbote). Best estimates from field sources place the affected population to date between 300,000 to 500,000 with a minimum of 50,000 houses damaged or destroyed. Peru's Center for Disaster Studies and Prevention (PREDES) reports that flooding and mudslides have killed at least 137 people and injured 131. The on-going nature, size, and number of events have overwhelmed local capacities to respond, particularly in the shelter and water sectors.
U.S. Government (USG) Assistance: On February 2, 1998, U.S. Ambassador Dennis C. Jett declared a disaster in Peru, requesting an airlift of critical relief commodities and funding to support immediate relief efforts. BHR/OFDA immediately allocated $25,000 to USAID/Lima to be channeled through the Peruvian Civil Defense for the purchase of relief supplies for the affected population in the hard-hit town of Ica. At the same time, OFDA arranged for an airlift of 190 rolls of plastic sheeting (enough to provide temporary shelter for at least 9,500 flood victims) and five 3,000-gallon water bladders to be received and distributed by the Peruvian Civil Defense and NGOs active in flood affected areas. The total cost of the airlift, including commodities and transportation expenses, was approximately $65,000. OFDA also dispatched a team of advisors to Peru to assist in the assessment of humanitarian needs and the management of ongoing relief operations.
Based on initial reporting from this assessment team and from USAID/Lima, OFDA provided an additional $350,000 in funding to USAID/Lima to support grants with two NGOs involved in flood relief operations. With this funding, USAID/Lima is awarding $200,000 to CARITAS for the procurement and distribution of relief supplies, including shelter materials and blankets. The remaining $150,000 is funding a grant to ADRA to support similar efforts in other disaster-affected areas. Both CARITAS and ADRA are using a portion of this grant funding to distribute commodities provided via OFDA's airlift.
OFDA also provided USAID/Lima with $20,000 for contract charter air transport so that OFDA's assessment team could conduct detailed field assessments in floodaffected areas. Based on their findings, the team recommended that OFDA provide a second, significant tranche of relief assistance. In response, OFDA is dispatching three airlifts containing a total of approximately 1,700 rolls of plastic sheeting (enough to provide temporary shelter for at least 85,000 flood victims), ten 3,000 gallon water bladders, and one chain saw kit. Airlifts will be delivered to the cities of Piura and Trujillo on February 25, 26 and 27 at a total estimated cost of $598,000, including transportation and commodities.
On February 23, OFDA provided $1,568,500 in funding to USAID/Lima to support: (a) logistics costs associated with the reception, handling and distribution of OFDA relief commodities, and (b) the installation of plastic sheeting, including the procurement of hand tools, nails, poles and straw matting that may be used for walls in temporary shelters. USAID/Lima is channelling these funds through three separate grants to CARITAS, CARE and ADRA. Climate forecasters predict above normal levels of precipitation to continue in Peru through March. OFDA advisors remain in country to assist in the management of the response to this disaster.
BHR/OFDA assistance (to date)......................... $2,626,500