Description of the disaster
Six months have passed since the heavy rainfall, floods and landslides that severely affected coastal departments (Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Ancash, Lima and Ica) and the mountainous department of Cajamarca. As of 23 September 2017, the National Institute for Civil Defence (INDECI) reported that 1.8 million people were affected by these manifestations of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The rains began in November 2016, but the heaviest impact was from January to March 2017, and led to 164 deaths and 505 people injured; 20 people remain missing.
INDECI reports that 554,784 people have been affected in Piura. The level of affectation in other departments is: La Libertad 476,584; Lambayeque: 156,569; and Ancash 151,894. A total of 442,400 homes have some level of damage, which includes 377,372 affected homes, 37,108 collapsed homes and 27,920 that were left inhabitable. Of the total number of dwellings that are uninhabitable and/or collapsed, 35% are in Lambayeque, 33% are in Piura and 10% in La Libertad.
With the aim of ensuring that integrated assistance and humanitarian aid reach the affected population and support in their recovery, the central government declared a state of emergency in 11 departments in March. Piura is the only department where the state of emergency remains in place; it is scheduled to end in November.
In the first six months of this emergency, the Peruvian Red Cross (PRC), the IFRC and other Movement components provided essential humanitarian support that entailed the distribution of non-food items (NFIs), supporting access to water, promotion of healthy practices, first aid and psychosocial support.
While the recovery and reconstruction phase is underway, multiple challenges remain for the affected population. The organizations and institutions supporting the response efforts have also encountered challenges.
On 6 September, the Government of Peru approved a modified Integrated Reconstruction Plan, which includes assistance to the affected population to rebuild and repair their homes, provide basic services, rebuild and repair local schools and health facilities, as well as create jobs in the affected areas. The government decided to shift efforts from the construction of temporary housing to the building of more permanent housing. The plan foresees the construction of 5,238 housing units, located in 23 districts of 6 regions (Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Ancash and Lima). A portion of the affected population continue to live in tents, which are rapidly deteriorating. Few short-term solutions exist. In some collective centres, access to appropriate levels of water and sanitation remain deficient. The process by authorities to identify and designate areas suitable (or not) for reconstruction has yet to be finalized. While INDECI reports the figures of affectation, a detailed registry with the names and locations of the affected population has not been created.
The Ministry of Health has implemented actions to prevent the spread of dengue and Zika. Nevertheless, dengue transmission has been significantly higher than the figures reported in a similar period in previous years. According to the most recent epidemiological bulletin (epidemiological week 38: 17 to 23 September 2017) from the Ministry of Health, the rate of incidence for dengue is above that of the rest of the country in Piura, Tumbes, Ica, La Libertad and Ayacucho departments. Nearly 66 per cent of the reported 72,831 dengue cases in Peru are in the Piura department (47,257 confirmed cases) with three other coastal departments following: La Libertad: 6,817; Tumbes: 4,444; and Ica: 4,358.
Within this challenging context, many families have been unable to re-establish their livelihoods, and food insecurity remains a concern. The flooding and landslides devastated livelihoods, particularly subsistence farming and other agriculture-related activities. As of 17 August, INDECI reports that in the current rainy season 50,154 hectares of crops were lost and 107,827 hectares were affected. Small-scale business activities including commerce, labour and production were also affected and overall, a greater proportion of earned income is required to purchase food.
Community kitchens and micronutrient supplements—advocated by the World Food Programme (WFP)—have been used to bring relief to urban and peri-urban populations, but their reach and supply is limited. While livelihood recovery has reduced the number of households requiring food assistance, only 30 per cent of the population currently deemed to be in danger of food insecurity is receiving assistance. Because many of those affected have received little or no aid, many remote populations reliant on subsistence farming have become more vulnerable. The WFP is advocating for increased support of community kitchens located in collective centres and food distributions or cash transfers to remote communities.