Russia

Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Russian Federation: Flood relief and rehabilitation Situation Report No. 7


appeal no. 18/98 (programme extended until 31 July, 1999)
situation report no. 7
period covered: 25 March - 11 May 1999
The strong donor response to the severe flooding which hit the Republic of Sakha in May, 1998 provided the support for the Russian Red Cross (RRC’s) and Federation’s Yakutia relief operation, with basic assistance in the form of hygiene and food parcels, shelter materials, clothes, boots, stoves and blankets distributed to 10,000 of the most vulnerable persons. The second (final) round of distribution assistance was started at the end of April, 1999, intended to assist another 10,000 beneficiaries in the more remote areas. This Appeal, originally launched in June, 1998 for 6 months, will therefore be extended to 31 July, 1999.

The context

The north-eastern Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) was hit by massive flooding in May 1998 along the Lena and Aldan rivers, killing 13 people and leaving 51,000 homeless. According to the Ministry of Social Welfare and EMERCOM the disaster struck 135 settlements, affecting 47,326 people. Thirty three villages with a population of 17,829 people were badly damaged; 3,720 cattle and horses perished, the fertile top soil over an area of 38,780 hectares of arable land, already prepared for cropping, was washed away, and 1,327 tons of seed potatoes were destroyed.

The flooding was caused by unusually low temperatures, which produced up to twice the normal snowfall and a two metre deep layer of ice, followed by a sudden rise in temperature and an extremely rapid snowmelt. The total damage was estimated to have reached CHF 300,000,000.

The relief assistance programme aimed to deliver aid to 20,000 of the most vulnerable, to improve health and hygiene conditions, to help people return home, and to assist them during the prolonged winter.

The arctic climate in the Sakha Republic is characterised by permafrost conditions. The temperatures drop to as low as -60 C, and access to transportation is a constant challenge. The river navigation period usually lasts from 15 May to 15 October depending on weather conditions, and winter roads normally open from 10 December.

In addition to the Yakutia relief operation, the Federation is carrying out a separate programme in the Russian Far North-east, assisting 82,000 indigenous peoples isolated in the isolated regions of Chukotka, Kamchatka (including Koryak okrug) and Magadan. This separate Appeal is over 70% covered, and it is proposed to extend the assistance to Taimyr. With other assistance programmes in place, Red Cross activities cover the entire area of northern Russia.

Latest events

The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is one Russia’s poorest regions, and its economy has suffered greatly from the general economic difficulties affecting the country. Further flooding in the town of Srednekolymsk on the Kolyma river and in other regions of the Republic is likely to occur during spring and summer as prolonged frosts have not allowed snow to melt slowly as usual.

A Russian Red Cross (RRC) representative conducted a trip to Yakutia to meet with local authorities from the Ministry for Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Health and regional Red Cross committees to discuss disaster preparedness in case of new flooding.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

The second phase of the programme, intended to continue the main support to 20,000 Yakutia residents and to assist another 10,000 beneficiaries (2,000 families), started at the end of April. Responding to the suggestion of the Yakutia branch of the RRC and the Ministry of Social Development, 20% of the aid was sent via the Berkakit railway station and immediately delivered to five of the following most vulnerable uluses (communities):

Distribution point
Beneficiaries
Food parcels
Multi-fuel stoves
Electr. stoves
Felt boots
Warm clothes, adults
Warm clothes, children
Sweaters
Warm gloves
Blankets
Aldansky
677
265
5
5
40
20
20
40
40
40
Amginsky
1,212
445
9
9
80
40
40
80
80
80
Khangalassky
2,675
920
12
12
160
80
80
160
160
160
Tattinsky
886
330
7
7
80
40
40
80
80
80
Churapchinsky
583
230
7
7
40
20
20
40
40
40
TOTAL
6,033
2,190
40
40
400
200
200
400
400
400

All the items intended for distribution in the second round of the programme were purchased in Moscow. The cargo was delivered to Berkakit and then picked up by ulus representatives. The remaining 80% of the assistance will be sent to Yakutia during the latter half of May when navigation is expected to begin again on the Lena and Aldan rivers. In the second half of June the relief items will be loaded on a barge for further distribution to Lensky, Olekminsky, Khangalassky, Namsky, Ust-Aldansky, Kobyaisky, and Ust-Maisky uluses. The following four uluses recieved the preliminary delivery of relief items:

Lensky ulus
Olekminsky ulus
Khangalassky ulus
Namsky ulus
FFPs
1,250
808
510
1,700
Multifuel stoves
30
25
20
20
Electric stoves
24
29
20
22
Felt-boots
180
275
180
290
Warm jackets/trousers, adults
84
140
100
115
Warm jackets/trousers, children
84
140
100
115
Heavy duty warm gloves
180
275
180
290
Blankets
180
275
180
290

Some 22,000 bottles of shampoo/liquid soap, donated to the programme by a cosmetic company, will also be sent to the vulnerable people of flood stricken Yakutia in the second round.

Outstanding needs

The Yakutia relief operation has been fully covered and implemented as planned.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

The RRC, Yakutia Red Cross Committee, and the Moscow Federation Delegation are continuing to work together, receiving support from the Government of the Sakha Republic.

Conclusion

The Yakutia relief operation has met its intended objectives in providing relief assistance to 20,000 flood stricken Yakutia people. Constraints to the operation have been resolved through the effective collaboration between the RRC, local Red Cross branches, and the authorities, with support provided by the Federation.

Renny Nancholas
Director
Europe Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Director
Operations Funding and Reporting Department