Uruguay: Floods DREF Bulletin no MDRUY001


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 185 countries.

In Brief

This DREF Bulletin is being issued based on the situation described below reflecting the information available at this time. CHF 15,000 (USD 12,397 or EUR 9,146) was allocated on 10 May 2007, from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to the needs in this operation, or to replenish disaster preparedness stocks distributed to the affected population.

This operation is expected to be implemented over 3 months, and will be completed by 10 August, 2007; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 10 November, 2007). Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

This operation is aligned with the International Federation's Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background and current situation

Intense and unusually prolonged rains, since the end of March this year have caused serious flooding and widespread damage in the Departments of Durazno, Treinte y Tres, Soriano, Cerro Laro, Florida, San José, Rocha, Río Negro and Canelones. The Departments of Durazno, Soriano and Treinta y Tres have been the most affected. Triggered by one week of torrential rains, the overflow of rivers has caused flash floods followed by landslides.

According to official figures of the National Emergency System around 11,000 people have been evacuated, although latest estimates report the evacuation of at least 12,000 people. These are the worst floods recorded over the last 50 years and it is estimated that over 110,000 people have been affected, mostly poor and vulnerable groups (children, women and elderly). These figures are likely to rise in the coming days when the flood waters reach low-lying areas. The number of deaths caused by the floods currently stands at two.

Displaced people by municipality (source National Emergency System, 9 May 2007):

Displaced adults
Displaced minors
Treinta y tres
Cerro Largo
10, 864

The floods caused severe damage to public infrastructure including rural roads, bridges, water supply, sewerage, drainage, power and telephone lines, housing, agriculture and municipal buildings, particularly schools and health care facilities. Thousands of houses have been damaged, with a large number of them totally destroyed. Most of the evacuations took place in poor and populated districts, with thousands of people being evacuated to Council shelters and sports clubs. Most schools have closed down.

The following preliminary needs have been identified:

1. Food, blankets and mattresses for those displaced by the flooding,
2. Chlorine, soap and other cleaning equipment to prevent the spread of waterborne disease
3. Transportation of these goods to affected areas.

Emergency needs are being addressed and public services slowly restored. Of particular concern is the water and sanitation situation in the affected areas, as some 30,000 people currently have no access to clean drinking water. Health problems from waterborne diseases and related infections therefore continue to be a threat to vulnerable communities and have to be prioritized. National authorities from the Health Ministry recommended the adoption of extreme hygiene precautions to avoid transmissible diseases such as leptopirosis, typhus, hepatitis A, diarrhoeas, gastrointestinal- and skin infections.

Weather forecasts indicate that adverse conditions will persist in the region for the coming days. The number of people affected by this flooding is expected to increase further, especially as flood waters reach lower-lying areas.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

- In Uruguay: Nívea García de Meerhoff, president of Uruguayan Red Cross; email cruzroja@adinet.com.uy phone (598) (2) 4802112, fax (598) (2) 4800714

- In Peru: Giorgio Ferrario, Head of Lima Regional Delegation; email giorgio.ferrario@ifrc.org, phone (511) 221-8151, fax (511) 441- 3607

- In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Head of Pan American Disaster Response Unit, Panama; email stephen.mcandrew@ifrc.org, phone (507) 316-1001, fax (507) 316-1082

- In Geneva: Olaug Bergseth, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email olaug.bergseth@ifrc.org, phone (41 22) 730-4535, fax (41 22) 730-0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) 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