In March ShelterBox responded to two separate disasters in Peru. Heavy rains triggered landslides that caused widespread damage in the remote mountainous region of Apurimac. Whilst in the Loreto region, in northern Peru, the unusually heavy rains led to extensive flooding. In July ShelterBox sent a monitoring and evaluation team back to these regions to assess the situation three months on.
The team travelled by boat along the Amazon River to talk to remote communities in Loreto. In total they located 88% of the tents that were initially distributed. Although these tents are still inhabited, now that the floodwaters have receded, some of the beneficiaries have relocated their tents to their villages and set about repairing their homes.
In Aucayo, the team was able to see what impact the ShelterBoxes have made on this small community. 16 tents were initially placed on a football pitch on the opposite side of the river to the badly damaged homes of the recipient families. Normally their homes, which are constructed on stilts and situated on an island in the middle of the Amazon River, are well above the seasonal high river levels. However, the unprecedented flooding saw the floodwaters rising to the roofs of the houses, badly damaging them and completely destroying most of the families' belongings.
When the evaluation team returned to the area they saw that the families had packed up their tents from the camp in Aucayo and returned closer to their damaged homes. They pitched their tents next to them and using the equipment in the box, which included a tool bag, they have set about rebuilding their homes. As well as this, the families have replanted crops and a sense of normality is returning.
'Amazing community spirit'
ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Chris Donald (UK) was part of an SRT in Loreto and was on the monitoring and evaluation team:
'When speaking to the families it was clear to me that there was an amazing community spirit, the disaster had brought everybody together. It was fantastic to see that everything in the box was still being used. Having deployed to numerous disaster zones across the world this was the first time I have been part of a follow-up visit and able to witness the real impact that the ShelterBox equipment makes to people's lives.'
Chris spoke to Marily Soria, a mother of eight, who was asked many questions on the tent and the other lifesaving items in the ShelterBox:
'We have received no help from anybody else, we cannot believe that you came to help us, we are eternally grateful and we feel blessed.'
In the mountainous region of Apurimac the team travelled over 2,000km to visit communities caught up in the terrible landslides. Eight locations were visited and 127 tents were found still inhabited. In areas where landslides completely destroyed houses, families have been relocated to new sites and are likely to remain in the ShelterBox tents for the foreseeable future.
'Sleeping like animals'
ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Dr. Alison Ashlin (UK) reflects on her conversation with the women of Llimpe:
'When talking to the women who are now living in our tents I was told that before ShelterBox arrived they were sleeping like animals. They explained that having the tents makes them very happy, as they can sleep properly at night and they can start living again. They went on to tell me that they did not want to relocate back to their old village as they would not feel safe there. As such, until alternative land and financial resources are made available for rebuilding homes, these women and their families will remain living in ShelterBox tents for some time to come.'
Not far from Llimpe the team visited another camp called Mollepampa.
'The site at Mollepampa is home to 52 families who also lost everything when a landslide hit their village around ten o'clock in the evening,' said SRT member Sallie Buck (UK). 'Thankfully no one died in the landslide because the families were alerted to the threat when the land started shaking. Our translator explained to me that one community member told him how very grateful they were for ShelterBox’s help, explaining that it is thanks to this organisation that they are alive.'
Now that it is the dry season, in areas where landslides only damaged as opposed to destroyed homes, a large percentage of the recipients have packed away their tents and are living in their badly impaired houses. The majority of these houses are located in high-risk areas and have suffered serious damage including large cracks in walls, subsidence and waterproofing damage. Unless these families are able to relocate and rebuild before the wet season starts it is highly likely that the tents will be reused in October when the rains come.
Thanks to everyone who donated. With your generous contributions, ShelterBox was able to bring these families in need shelter and other lifesaving aid that is making a real difference to their lives.