Uruguay

Uruguay: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 3

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This situation report is based on information received from the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team in Uruguay.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

1. Since 1959 Uruguay has been affected by floods; the damage caused by this year's unusually heavy rains and the resulting flooding has been extensive, affecting nine departments; the Departments of Durazno, Soriano and Treinta y Tres have been the most affected. At the height of the flooding more than 12,000 people were evacuated from their homes with an estimated total of over 110,000 people affected to some degree, many of these are the chronically poor and vulnerable groups (children, women and elderly).

2. The flood levels have reduced significantly, from 12.5 to 6 meters in some areas, allowing for people to begin returning to their homes and begin the process of clean-up; the lower flood levels have also allowed authorities to begin more extensive evaluations of damage to physical infrastructure.

3. Cold temperatures and high winds are forecast for the next 48 to 72 hours; a weather system from the Antarctic is expected to bring temperatures as low 0 C° with wind gusts of up to 80 km/h and moderate rainfall expected; the anticipated conditions have placed the emergency authorities on a higher state of alert and they will begin providing additional blankets and other items to the flood affected populations.

4. According to the National Emergency System, the total number of persons still displaced stands at 1,383

Displaced people by Municipality - 22/05/07 14:00
In shelters
W/Family &
Freinds
City / Department
Adults
Children
TOTAL
Durazno,
Durazno
326
382
708
Mercedes,
Soriano
91
110
201
Villa Soriano,
Soriano
2
2
4
Treinta y Tres
28
42
Est: 400
470
TOTAL
447
536
Est: 400
1,383

NATIONAL RESPONSE

5. The response continues to be managed in a rapid and efficient manner by both the municipal/departmental and the national authorities; the design of the National Emergency System -SNE, allows for coordination to be led by the departmental authorities which request support at the national level as required.

6. The National Institute for Food Assistance (INDA) continues to provide thousands of hot meals a day to all of the evacuated populations. INDA is also providing dry rations for other affected families, the 15 day family rations include Rice, Wheat Flour, Maize Flour (Polenta), Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Dried Milk Powder (Fortified with Iron) and Lentils; a total of 80 metric tones has been utilised and distributed since the crisis began. The logistics for the distribution of the food items is coordinated with the military which provide the logistics resources whilst the local authorities manage the distribution locally.

7. There continues to be no reported increase in prevalent diseases; however the contamination present in affected areas does however pose a risk and an increase in waterborne diseases and disease from flood related vectors is possible.

8. Damages in the agricultural sector are limited; there have been initial reports of minor losses in the rice, soy, maize and sorghum harvests, however the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that it appears that the losses are limited to a reduction in the quality of the grain and not on the expected harvest volumes. It is important to note that the maize and sorghum harvests are utilised primarily for animal feed whilst rice and soy are cash crops principally destined for export. There were also initial press reports of thousands of cattle killed by the floods, however it later turned out that many cattle were displaced by the flood waters from their pastures and later found alive in different pastures & paddocks. The Ministry of Agriculture is collecting detailed information via their departmental offices and should have a preliminary damage report by the end of the week.

9. According to press reports the Ministry of Transport and Public Works has announced that USD$5 million will be made available for the repair of damaged roads and transport infrastructure.

10. Telecoms Sans Frontieres has determined that whilst there were interruptions in electrical supply and communications, services have been completely restored and are functioning normally.

UN AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

11. UNDAC together with UNDP/BCPR, TSF and IFRC carried out two additional additional field assessments to Soriano (Dolores, Villa Soriano) and Paso de Los Tores in Tacuarembo over the past few days; these are areas that were affected to a lesser degree: The missions finding were similar in that the local and national authorities have managed the crisis competently and are moving into the recovery phase, the missions also highlighted the need to incorporate disaster risk reduction into the local development plans and to relocate flood vulnerable populations to more secure land and housing.

12. The United Nations System has provided local teams and international teams of experts and immediate support through the provision of cash and non-food items that include the following:

- UNDP: USD$100,000 for response and recovery; a UNDP/BCPR Expert on Early Recovery has arrived in country and is working with the UNDAC team and UN Agencies to establish a recovery framework and the transition from relief to recovery activities. Of particular importance is to review the impact of the floods on the livelihoods of the affected populations and also to incorporate risk reduction and management into the recovery plan.

- OCHA: Provided a Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and $30,000 for immediate relief needs.

- UNICEF: Is finalizing the deliveries of blankets, diapers, hygiene products, mattresses, school supplies to affected areas and is looking at the possibility of also providing psycho-social support.

- UNFPA - UN Population Fund: is providing USD$50,000 worth of hygiene and health related items and have also expressed interest in providing psycho-social support.

- FAO has conducted field assessments and is awaiting evaluations of damages in the agricultural sector from the departments to determine future actions.

- UNESCO will send evaluation teams to the field this week to look particularly at damages to cultural and archeological sites; teams will include a specialist in water; based one the teams findings UNESCO will determine whether funding will be required from their HQs for recovery projects.

- PAHO/WHO; continues to support the Ministry of Health in the management of the emergency and have also offered the SNE training and support for the installation of SUMA/LSS commodity tracking software/system.

- WFP -World Food Programme: has provided a logistics officer as part of the UNDAC team to assist in evaluation of the humanitarian assistance supply chain and is also providing assistance on the assessment of the food security situation.

- TSF: Telecoms Sans Frontières; continues to support the UNDAC and UN teams in ICT related requirements and have also concluded an evaluation of the floods impact on the telecommunications network.

- Joint UNEP/OCHA Environmental Unit is supporting the operation with an evaluation of the potential environmental impact and secondary risks as a result of the flooding.

13. International donations include:

- USAID/OFDA provided $50,000 in immediate assistance.

- The government of Japan provided $90,000 worth of, mattresses, blankets and shelter material.

- Venezuela: blankets, clothing and non-perishable food items.

- The government China has provided assistance.

- The Inter American Development Bank has made $15 million available, through the reorientation of already approved loans.

- The government of Argentina has provided 1,000 blankets and a team of three "White Helmets(Cascos Blancos)"

14. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mobilised a Disaster Management Officer and Regional Intervention Team members. An emergency donation of $100,000 has been allocated to support the Uruguayan Red Cross and for provision of kitchen kits, including stoves and kerosene fuel, and psychosocial support. (Psycho-social support will be provided in coordination with the Catholic University)

15. The World Society for Protection of Animals who deployed a regional technical advisor has completed their field evaluations and concluded that there has been no significant impact on animal husbandry and has offered technical assistance to national authorities on a disaster risk reduction plan specifically in the area of animal husbandry in emergencies.

COORDINATION

16. The National Emergency System (SNE) is in charge of the operational coordination at the national level under the leadership of the Secretary of the Presidency (Pro Secretario de la Presidencia). Coordination at the departmental and municipal levels is managed by the local authorities with the participation of the various ministerial/sectors, i.e. Social Services, Health Dept., Education Dept., Water & Sanitation, Police, Fire-Department, Army, etc.

17. The Coordination Centre established at UNDP continues to function well and has been the platform for reception and dissemination of information to the various response & recovery actors.

18. The UN System in country has been working to ensure interagency coordination through updates and regular meetings and is providing ongoing contact and coordination with relevant ministries and national and departmental authorities.

19. A general coordination meeting with national authorities, UN Agencies, NGOs and other relevant actors representing the various sectors will be held on 23 May at the UN Offices. The objective of the meeting is to create a coordination platform for the various sectors via the formation of working groups per sector.

NEED FOR ASSISTANCE

20. The majority of immediate emergency needs have been addressed through the national and departmental emergency structures, a large outpouring of national solidarity, and the immediate international donations received.

21. The SNE has stated that donations of clothing should be suspended as the volume of clothes donated has placed a strain on the logistics supply chain.

22. Immediate needs stated by local and National Authorities are;

- Psychosocial support / counseling

- Mattresses (beds), blankets, furniture

- Kitchen Utensils

- Construction Material: Cement, Roofing material, lime, paint

- Cleaning supplies: Chlorine Bleach, disinfectant etc.

- School Supplies: Books, notebooks, markers, pens (2,500 kits)

23. In water and sanitation, control and disposal of vectors and decontamination of homes and ongoing public awareness and education campaigns should be continued and strengthened.

24. In livelihood and recovery; there are reports of loss of property and goods by small- businesses in all of the affected areas. Support to these small businesses, via cash grants or soft credit schemes to quickly reestablish economic activity in the affected communities is vital. Initial estimates suggest approximately 100 small businesses in Treinta y Tres and Durazno require assistance assessments of Mercedes are ongoing. Artisan trades such as small scale fishermen have also reported loss of equipment and the negative impact of the floods on their industry.

25. Recovery planning should include efforts to address risks, vulnerability reduction and enhancement of local capacities to respond and cope with crisis. Actions include the establishment and/or completion of Departmental Emergency Coordination Centres, creation of greater national coordination capacity, the mapping of risks and vulnerabilities by hazard and overall strengthening of coordination, contingency planning and response capacity within the departmental and national structures.

Contact Details:

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10 Tel: +1-917-367-9960

Desk Officer (New York) Mr. Ignacio Leon-Garcia Tel: + 1-917-367-9960

Press contact: (Geneva) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs Tel. +41-22-917 2653

Press contact: (New York) Ms. Ms. Stephanie Bunker Tel: +1-917-367-5126

This situation report, together with additional information on the current crisis is also available on http://www.reliefweb.int. As your tool for timely information sharing, please encourage submissions of documents and maps by email to submit@reliefweb.int.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.