Venezuela: Floods Appeal No. 35/99 Situation Report No. 13

Originally published


Period covered: 1 - 31 December 2000
The Venezuelan Red Cross (VRC), supported by the Federation, continues programme implementation, particularly in the areas of health and water and sanitation. Health activities are carried out through health brigades working in the communities; 112 community visits took place over the reporting period and a total of 63 latrines have now been built. The American Red Cross, the Spanish Red Cross, the Italian Red Cross and the French Red Cross are working with the National Society to carry out various projects including agricultural assistance, disease prevention and construction. Donors are encouraged to contribute to the VRC/Federation operation to support vulnerable communities hit by the disaster.

The context

In December 1999, devastating floods and landslides caused 30,000 deaths and thousands of homes were lost in the northern states of Venezuela. Material damage was estimated at USD three billion and unemployment rates increased given the long term economic consequences of the impact of the floods which particularly affected the tourism and fishing industries.

Reconstruction efforts are underway, but there are still substantial needs to be met before life returns to normal for many of those affected by the disaster.

Latest events

The President of the Republic conducted a series of ceremonies in commemoration of the tragic events of 20 December 1999. In one of the ceremonies he invested the flag of the Venezuelan Red Cross with the "Diego de Osorio" Order, the most significant decoration given by the mayor's office of the state of Vargas for services rendered to the community, in recognition of the work carried out by the staff and volunteers of the Vargas branch of the Venezuelan Red Cross.

Parallel to these events, the "first forum on education and prevention in disaster response" was organised between 12 and 17 December 2000, in which an exhibition of photographs was presented with material provided by a volunteer from the Vargas branch.

Most of the temporary shelters have now been closed, but some continue to operate. Nevertheless, for most of the affected families the immediate problems are access to basic health care, education services and employment.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Venezuelan Red Cross

The National Society continues project implementation and, at the same time, training in different areas and community activities are on-going.

A planned unit for 250 families with community centre services, a public clinic, a school and green areas is among the National Society's priorities. The President of the VRC has negotiated with state authorities and land will be granted to the National Society in order to implement this project. It is expected that a decision will be taken in the course of the month of March 2001.

Planning for construction of the new headquarters of the Vargas branch has been concluded and structural work will begin with available resources. The Italian Red Cross continues to provide funding for this project.

International Federation

The Federation's country delegation has continued to support programme implementation in the areas of health and water and sanitation and is collaborating with the American Red Cross in disaster prevention and response, as well as with the Italian Red Cross as regards the construction project for the Vargas regional headquarters.


The plan of action for health is implemented through work in the communities carried out by health brigades, made up of volunteers trained in the areas of health promotion, disease prevention and water and environmental sanitation. These brigades assist and train community members, giving them the possibility to analyse their needs, evaluate current health risks and identify strength s and capacities. To date, four health brigades have been created, one in each state of intervention. During the reporting period, the brigades carried out 112 community visits, as follows:

  • A baseline analysis was carried out in 15 communities, of an overall total of 40 targeted communities;
  • 97 community health promoters were trained through 9 workshops on medical aid, water and environmental sanitation, garbage disposal, primary health care and vector control;
  • 10 community health committees were created;
  • health promotion sessions were organised for 878 families: ante natal check ups were carried out for 36 women and 6 children were vaccinated;
  • 101 educational sessions on dengue fever, malaria, cholera, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, disaster preparedness, early pregnancy, waste disposal and clean drinking water took place. A total of 4,390 persons attended these sessions and 304 brochures were distributed;
  • In December, 612 toys were distributed to children in communities in the state of Carabobo;
  • 9 clean-up campaigns were carried out in 9 communities in the states of Carabobo, Falcon and Lara, with the active participation of the authorities, leaders and members of the community; the authorities assisted with the provision of trucks and other necessary equipment;
  • House to house educational sessions on the management of waste, clean water, and personal hygiene were also carried out.
  • Assistance was provided for the construction of 63 latrines in the state of Falcon.
A total of 15 professionals from 14 branches of the Venezuelan Red Cross received training for primary health care agents which took place at the Merida branch and covered a total of 198 hours of classes.

Water and Sanitation

In the state of Falcon, there has been progress in sanitation and hygiene promotion. In San Joaquin, 41 latrines were completed; to date, a total of 63 latrines have been built. In the first quarter of 2001, work will commence on the 220 remaining latrines in the La Montaña community. In order to obtain approval for the project to construct 500 latrines, meetings were held with the Valencia branch of the Venezuelan Red Cross in the state of Carabobo.

Preliminary activities have been undertaken for the construction of the San Joaquin aqueduct in the state of Falcon. Training in water and sanitation was provided to volunteers in Lara state.

The need to remove the water storage tanks from the communities where running water has been re-established is being studied in the state of Vargas. To this effect, a number of meetings have been held with Hidrocapital, the public water-supply agency.

Institutional Development

In the area of institutional development area, assistance continues to be provided to the VRC project management unit. A management course, which will begin in March, is being organized for managers of the National Society.

Participating National Societies

A proposal for a memorandum of understanding is still under negotiation between the VRC and the PNS concerned.

The American Red Cross has implemented an agricultural project which assisted 3,000 families in El Jaguar and Union, in the state of Falcon. The families received seeds, tools and fertilisers, and the project was completed in mid-December 2000, with a successful harvest for 86% of the beneficiaries, since their crop was sufficient for their families and provided a surplus for sale.

In the field of disaster preparedness and prevention, the American Red Cross is assisting the VRC in developing its disaster response service, prevention strategies and in the creation and implementation of a national disaster preparedness plan. In the field of psycho-social support, 352 volunteers were trained in psycho-social assistance, 23 volunteers were trained as instructors and 7,850 psycho social interventions were made.

The Spanish Red Cross started a dengue fever prevention project in Caracas Federal District state, in order to prevent potential outbreaks of epidemics. 22 areas of El Liberador municipality will be fumigated and a health education campaign will be run among the population.

A community water and sanitation project began in Vargas, Carabobo and Lara states in order to promote construction of basic sanitary infrastructure. Trained sanitation brigades will work as facilitators to raise awareness in the community.

In Miranda state, an agricultural production reactivation project for 292 families (1,450 people) is on-going in six municipalities of the Barlovento region. This project aims to facilitate crop production of at least one hectare for each family. For this purpose, agricultural materials have been distributed.

In the region of Barlovento, ten schools destroyed by the floods in Acevedo, Andres Bello, Páez and Pedro Gual municipalities are being rebuilt, improved and equipped and a community centre is being rebuilt in Santa Bárbara community. 180 families relocated in shelters in the city of Barquisimeto, Lara state, are being assisted to cope with the effects of the disaster. Such psycho-social assistance seeks to help 900 people through family tracing, access to employment and alternative professional training.

The Italian Red Cross continues to support three laboratories: In Naiguata, 1,500 people have benefited from the facilities, and the laboratory in Caraballeda has assisted 5,350 people. In Chaguaramal, steps are being taken to rehabilitate the laboratory and to set up a mobile health brigade.

In Cupira, the mountain rural medical assistance centre and the mobile health brigade have assisted 1,400 people, despite logistical problems.

In Coro, a complete analysis laboratory was delivered to the VRC branch. Operation will start once all facilities are available. In Macanilla, the elementary school has been renovated and is currently being equipped.

In Petare, renovation of the Casa Hogar (shelter house) for abandoned children was undertaken for the benefit of 70 children. In December, a donation of sports equipment and shoes for all the children at shelter house was made.

The French Red Cross continues with the building of 100 houses in Miranda state, at the El Guapo Dam area. 60 per cent of the construction work has been completed.

Outstanding needs

Current coverage of the appeal stands at 86.26 per cent. Funding for the remainder of the appeal target is essential, in particular to finance the coordination of the operation and capacity building within the National Society.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

Regular contacts with national and international humanitarian agencies continued during the reporting period. In particular, close contact is maintained with the ministries of health of the states in which the health programme is under implementation.


See Annex 1 for details.

Santiago Gil
Americas Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Head a.i.
Relationship Management Department

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