A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
Since 29 December 2020, the La Soufrière volcano alert level in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was elevated due to increased volcanic activity. By 8 April 2021, the alert level increased to red, causing government authorities to issue immediate evacuation orders. On 9 April 2021, La Soufrière erupted for the first time after 40 years, sending an ash plume of 10km into the sky. Subsequent multiple eruptions occurred, and several severe tropical storms and rain events initially hampered the clean-up activities and slowed down the recovery phase of the operation.
Heavy ashfall initially impacted the neighbouring islands of Barbados, Grenada, and St. Lucia. The ashfall however neither caused considerable damage nor required evacuation on those islands.
At its peak, the eruption displaced over 13,300 people who sheltered in public and private collective centres, with most of St. Vincent's 110,600 population being indirectly affected by ashfall, water restrictions, loss of income, and house rental shortages.
The red and orange zones were designated as safe for people to return in September 2021 by NEMO, and all government managed collective shelters were closed by 31 March 2022. Despite the significant amount of work that was completed, some families continued to live with host families, or in transitional housing while they repair or rebuild their damaged homes. Furthermore, livelihood activities were severely constrained in 2021, and were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic which placed a greater burden on households’ livelihood and earning potentials.
Among the government’s efforts to support households in St Vincent & the Grenadines to recover in the aftermath of the eruption were:
• Cleaning and clearing of ash from all roadways
• Support to the agriculture sector through monthly payments of 500 Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD)
• Support to farmers to clear ash from land and carry out mechanical tilling
• Construction of several transitional schools to fill the gap created by permanent schools that remain damaged
• Provision of food parcels (with SVGRC supported distributions)
• Supply of construction materials for house repairs
• Construction of 27 homes in Orange Hill for households that could not return to their preeruption home.
Summary of the current response
Overview of Host National Societies Response Action
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross (SVGRC) worked in collaboration with the national authorities by supporting families to evacuate from the red and orange zones and providing food parcels and other in-kind donations. The following actions were implemented by the National Society so far:
• Provided 291 Multipurpose cash grants to households during the emergency phase of the response.
• Issued 753 supermarket vouchers (200 of these vouchers were funded by the La Soufriere appeal)
• Distributed relief items such as blankets, water, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, and wheelbarrows to 1,713 families.
• 3,338 households were provided with cleaning kits.
• 3,231 food parcels (purchased with bilateral funds – delivered under the appeal) have been delivered to families in St Vincent and Bequia islands.
• 74 families (240 people) were supported to relocate from communal shelters into a transitional rental accommodation
• 2,398 hygiene kits were provided to households.
• 257 shelter tool kits were distributed.
• The National Society established and supported 11 child-friendly spaces in communal shelters and reached 1018 children.
• 88 staff and volunteers were trained in Mental Health and Psycho-social Support (MHPSS) and assisted with the ‘Return to Happiness’ programme in collaboration with UNICEF, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Department of Child Welfare.
• 667 PSS kits were provided to support children’s return to school.
• 1,713 families were reached with PPE items (face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers) to ensure safe COVID19 practices.
• 400 wall-mounted sanitizer units were installed in classrooms, health clinics and community managed buildings.