Tunisia: Floods Appeal No. 04/03 Final Report

Situation Report
Originally published


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.

In Brief

Appeal No. 04/03; Final Report; Period covered: January-October 2003; Final appeal coverage: 50%.

Appeal history:

Launched on 5 February 2003 for CHF 308,000 (USD 229,000 or EUR 210,000) to assist 3,000 beneficiaries for two months.

Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 50,000.

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals:

Tunisia Floods Emergency Appeal. For details, please go to the website at http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf=5Fappeals.pl?03/0403.pdf

North Africa Regional Programmes Appeal for 2003. For details, please go to the website at http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf=5Fappeals.pl?annual03/019203.pdf

Background and Summary

From January to the end of February 2003, northern and central parts of Tunisia experienced an unusual cold wave coupled with heavy rainfalls. In several governorates in the mountainous area, temperatures below freezing were accompanied by snowfalls. The water level in the largest river, Oued Mejerda, which crosses the northern part of the country from the Algerian border to the north of Tunis, had raised, causing overflows into nearby fields and villages. Roads were temporarily cut due to water and snow levels.

Severe floods affected the country again in September 2003, causing significant damage to infrastructure and the loss of human life and livestock.

The rains came after three consecutive years of drought which left the soil quite hard and made it difficult for the water to be absorbed, thus causing extensive flooding. These were the worst floods Tunis ia experienced in more than ten years, the last having occurred in 1990.

The population in the affected areas was not prepared for such unprecedented weather conditions that lasted with different intensity for almost two months. Loss of life from drowning, injuries as well as partial or total damage of houses and infrastructure turned to be a disastrous outcome for some 5,500 families across nine governorates. Most of these families had to be evacuated to temporary shelters or to seek accommodation with relatives after their homes collapsed or were seriously damaged. Their belongings, including warm clothing and the years' food reserves (including olive oil and couscous) were lost, as well as their cattle and sheep. A number of small businesses were devastated.

The rescue operation was mainly carried out by the army and the civil defence while the assistance provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity was channelled through and coordinated by the Tunisian Union of Social Solidarity in cooperation with local authorities. The assessment of the material and economic damage and losses was carried out by a technical commission that had been appointed by the President of the Republic.

The Tunisian Red Crescent (TRC) disaster response and management capacity is modest but it corresponds to the role that has been assigned to it within the national response plan. On the other hand, the national society is experienced in carrying out relief activities within its social programmes and has a network of 24 branches at the level of governorates (one in each governorate) and 220 committees at the local level.

At the beginning of January 2003, the national society started already to dispatch relief items from its stocks at all levels. Later in January, a small assessment team from the national society's headquarters visited the most affected regions in order to plan the intervention with its branches and local authorities. Where rainfall had continued over several weeks (thus affecting an increasing number of people and making those already affected increasingly vulnerable ; and in which the existing TRC stocks of blankets, clothing and tents were almost depleted) the request for external assistance was inevitable. During the same period, the national society had released 40,000 Tunisian Dinars (approximately CHF 40,000) from its emergency relief fund to purchase food and non food relief items. The TRC emergency fund was also almost emptied.

The Federation's Emergency Appeal no.04/03 was launched on 20 February 2003 to assist with basic food and non food relief items for 600 families of five (or 3,000 persons), who had been identified as most vulnerable in the Jendouba, Béja, Manouba and Bizerte regions.

Two distributions of emergency assistance were planned to take place within the operational period of two months.

However, the second distribution never occurred, due to the shortage of funds. The appeal reached only 50 percent of coverage with 36.7 percent of contributions in cash and 13.3 percent in kind. In addition, the contribution of the Finnish Red Cross to the regional annual appeal consisting of used clothing which was partially used for this operation.

In addition to the emergency assistance, the TRC was in need of replenishing its relief stocks with blankets and warm clothing, as well as reconstituting its emergency fund. Later in September and October 2003, when another cycle of heavy rainfalls had hit the governorate of Tunis, replenishment of relief stocks proved to be vital. Thanks to the stocks that were rebuilt under the current appeal, the TRC was able to respond to this second disaster of the year without any additional requests for external funding.

Reconstruction and rehabilitation activities fall under the mandate of the authorities and the national society is not associated to these programmes. Consequently, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects were not included in the appeal.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Tunisia: Tunisian RC, Dr T. Cheniti, Secretary General, Phone: +71 320 630, Fax: +216 71 320 151

In Tunisia: Regional Office for North Africa, Anne E. Leclerc, Head of Delegation, +216 71 86 24 85, Fax +216 71 86 29 71, E-Mail: ifrctu01@ifrc.org

In Geneva: MENA Department, Martin Fisher, Regional Desk Officer, +41 22 730 4440; fax 41.22.733.0395; e-mail: Martin.Fisher@ifrc.org

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

(pdf* format - 103 KB)