(Balance Requested from ACT Network - US$ 24,740)
Geneva, 27 January 2000
The latest reports from the Venezuela disaster area confirm that the floods that devastated the country in December have been one of the worst natural disasters in Latin America in terms of victims. Although the official death toll, based on a body count, is still very low, the media, local authorities and other unofficial sources put the number of dead around over 30.000. An estimated 600,000 persons have been directly affected and, according to the Venezuelan Civil Defense, initial assessments indicate at least 64,700 houses were damaged and over 23,200 destroyed. The civil defense reported that as of 14 January, there were 114,388 displaced persons living in 326 military shelters; 5,944 persons have been registered as missing.
The Evangelical Churches in Venezuela responded immediately using their own resources and with the rapid response funds received from ACT along with direct support from some members of the network. An ACT/Venezuela Emergency Committee has been formed which is coordinating the emergency response actions of the implementing members. A team from CCD is working with the committee supporting their activities. As a request from the committee a short-term consultant is foreseen to support the implementation of the Appeal.
ACT Appeal LAVE01 was issued on January 5 to provide short-term emergency assistance to 1,000 vulnerable families affected by the floods in Venezuela. In order to avoid further delays this appeal was issued with incomplete information and budget - the present revision includes this information.
Please kindly send your contributions to the ACT bank account.
We urge those donors who have made pledges to this Appeal to send the funds as soon as possible as the needs of the flood victims are urgent.
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org
I. REQUESTING ACT MEMBER
Lutheran Church of Venezuela
The Lutheran Church started working in Venezuela in 1893 as an ethnical church which became the Lutheran Church of Venezuela in 1987. They have established churches in Maracaibo, Barinas, Barquisimeto, Valencia y Caracas with two educational centres in Barinas and Valencia. They work jointly with Accion Ecumenica and are working with the Presbyterian Church in an ecumenical program of theology formation. They have given assistance to affected people in Caracas and the States of Vargas, Lara and Carabobo during the present emergency.
An ACT/Venezuela Emergency Committee has been formed by the ACT member and four of the implementing partners who have received funds from the ACT Network for the emergency. This Committee will be responsible for the implementation of the project.
II. IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS
Presbyterian Church of Venezuela
The Presbyterian Church of Venezuela started its activities in 1897 and in 1946 the Presbyterian Church of Venezuela was created. In 1991 the National Synod of the Presbyterian Church was formed which has churches and related organisations in Caracas and the States of Miranda, Carabobo, Yulia, Lara, Falcon and Merida. Following the earthquake in Caracas in 1967 they worked in the voluntary brigades to assist the affected people and also gave assistance following the flooding of the Tuy Valley and the Cariaco earthquake in 1997. In the present emergency they have given assistance to affected people in Caracas and the states of Vargas, Zulia, Falcon and Miranda.
Pentecostal Evangelical Union of Venezuela
The Pentecostal Evangelical Union of Venezuela is made up of pentecostal churches mainly located in indigenous and peasant regions of the country. In 1990 they formed a national network of rescue groups and they collaborated in assisting affected people in the Limon River floods. They have founded the Permanent Evangelical Committee of solidarity and in the present emergency they have given assistance to affected people in Caracas and the states of Vargas and Zulia.
Accion Ecumenica is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) created in 1977. They have a Centre for Integral Health Care, an educational programme on health care and a special program to care for HIV affected as well as a documentation and publications centre. They work jointly with the Lutheran Church. They have assisted 540 families in Caracas and the State of Vargas following the present emergency.
Centro de Educacion Popular "Exeario Sosa Lujan" - CEPEXSOL
CEPEXSOL, located in Barquisimeto (Miranda State), was created in 1980 and is an organization of popular education working with the Cultural Christian Movement -CALEB. They work with educational institutions, communities, ecumenical groups, women and children. They are a partner of Church World Service (CWS) in a larger project of education. During the present emergency they collected food and supplies and participated in the coordination of the medical brigades of the Barquisimeto Teacher's Social Security Institution to assist the affected people in the Vargas State.
III. DESCRIPTION OF THE EMERGENCY SITUATION
Fifteen days of constant and intense rainfall in Venezuela culminated, on 16 December, in extensive flooding and landslides in the Federal District of Caracas, as well as in the States of Miranda, Vargas, Nueva Esparta (The island Margarita), Yaracuy, Balcon Carabobo, Zulia and Tachira. Rivers overflowed their banks and swept through poor districts in the capital city of Caracas. The worst hit areas were those with shanty towns perched precariously on steep mountainsides where one third of the capital's residents live. In coastal valleys, entire communities disappeared in massive mudslides.
Although the official death toll, based on a body count, is still very low, the media, local authorities and other unofficial sources put the number of dead around 30,000. An estimated 600,000 persons have been directly affected and, according to the Venezuelan Civil Defense, initial assessments indicate at least 64,700 houses were damaged and over 23,200 destroyed. The civil defense reported that as of 14 January, there were 114,388 displaced persons living in 326 military shelters; 5,944 persons have been registered as missing.
Adverse weather conditions continued throughout the week of 3-9 January, causing further damages in various states. In Tachira 2,600 persons had to be evacuated from flooded areas to temporary shelters. The road connecting San Antonio, Venezuela, with Cucuta, Colombia, was damaged in various segments due to flooding and landslides. In Vargas, the inlet of the Maya water supply system was damaged causing further distribution problems. In Caracas, minor landslides affected the vicinity of Gramoven and Caricuao. Heavy rains also triggered a landslide on the Caracas-la Guaira highway and the Government evacuated 2,500 people living in communities along the highway.
Ten thousand people are still being sheltered in schools in Caracas. They will be moved to the Caracas sports stadium, which is being used as a transit shelter, and then relocated to military barracks in the states of Aragua, Carabobo, Anzoategui and Yaracuy.
In the Port of la Guaira, containers holding hazardous materials had been washed up by the floods, which prompted the Civil Defense to order the evacuation of approximately 1,500 persons living in the neighborhood. Because of heavy damage to most of the water pipelines, national authorities are still unable to confirm when the water service will be restored in the state of Vargas. Lack of potable water and the need for health education (related to water/sanitation) are still the largest problems related to the disaster, especially in the state of Vargas. The construction of a temporary bridge connecting Caracas and the country's "Eastern Development Pole" in the state of Miranda has been held up by the heavy rains, but should be completed shortly.
An assessment conducted by the state of Vargas, updating demographic information and reviewing the social and economic situation of flood victims in the state is nearing completion. It will form the basis for a short and long term strategic reconstruction and rehabilitation plan. The National Emergency Committee, is now focusing on rehabilitation/ reconstruction issues. A special authority for rehabilitation and reconstruction has been appointed by the President.
ACT/Implementing Members and Partners Emergency Response Actions
The following are the activities developed for each implementing members as immediate response to the emergency:
Supply of food, medicines, medical assistance, drinking water and general assistance to the following shelters:
- Recreational Park in the south of Valencia,
- Centro Martin Vegas (Leper Hospital) and Old Colony church in the State of Vargas
- La Pastora" parish in Caracas
- Las Delicias in the State of Miranda
- Collecting centers of local donations within the churches in Caracas, Maracaibo, Falcon and Miranda. These supplies were distributed to affected people in the different shelters.
- Supply of mattresses to different shelters
- Volunteers groups
- Direct assistance of food, water and clothes to 42 families in The Vargas State and 40 families in Miranda State.
- Six emergency teams have been created:
- Camaina: In The Zulia State caring for Indigenous population
- Caracas, Cabudare, Barquisimeto, Acarigua-Portuguesa and San Carlos: Collecting centers for supplies to be distributed to affected people from The Vargas State.
- 100 volunteers to the rescue groups.
Provisional shelter, food, medical assistance, medicines, mattresses and supplies to:
- 500 families in Caracas.
- 22 families from Avila in the north part of Caracas
- 40 families from Naiguata in Vargas State.
- Articulation spaces to support the affected people in Caracas and Barquisimeto.
- Support to medical brigades in the Vargas State
Provision of short-term emergency assistance to 1,000 vulnerable families (5,000 persons) affected by the floods in Venezuela
- Provision of food and drinking water to people affected by the floods
- Health attention and psychological support to people affected by the floods
- Reconstruction of infrastructure
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