Venezuela - Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 7

OCHA GVA 2000/0005
Venezuela Floods
OCHA Situation Report No. 7
12 January 2000

New assessments on the magnitude of the disaster 50.000 people still in shelters


1. The Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Caracas informs that the death toll is now estimated at 30,000. Some 100,000 people from Vargas were evacuated, of whom 35,000 are currently in shelters in Caracas, and 15,000 are in shelters in other cities.

2. Adverse weather conditions continued throughout the week of 3 - 9 January, causing 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.

3. According to preliminary information provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Development, and WHO/PAHO (Pan American Health Organization), 9 hospitals and 251 ambulatory health centers were affected to varying degrees, in the states of Vargas, Miranda, Distrito Federal, Falcon and Yaracuy.

4. The Ministry of Education reports that 23 school districts were declared in state of emergency. Regular classes were scheduled to reopen on 10 January 2000. Damages in this sector are summarized below:

Schools affected
School used as temporary shelters
Displaced students

5. According to an assessment made by the National Housing Council (CONAVI), 4,965 buildings and 7,750 homes were affected by the disaster in Vargas State. An estimated 4 million cubic meters of sediments were deposited in 875 hectares of urban grounds by the torrential rains of December last year.

6. 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 of Los Cocoteros and La Linea, to prevent possible accidents.

National response

7. The National Emergency Committee, composed by 13 subcommittees, which takes charge of three main areas of activities: social development, infrastructure, and communications, is now focusing, as its main task, on rehabilitation/reconstruction issues.

8. Mr. Carlos Geniatos, Minister of Science and Technology, was appointed by the President Hugo Chavez as Special Authority for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the central-coastal region. He will coordinate a commission integrated by the Ministers of Planning, Commerce and Production, Environment and Infrastructure, and the commander of operations of Vargas.

International response

9. ECLAC is leading a socioeconomic damage assessment mission, financed by UNDP, which is to start on 17 January. A final report is expected in mid-February.

10. FAO is implementing an evaluation of the food and agricultural situation and damage/rehabilitation needs of the agricultural sector affected by the floods.

11. PAHO is operating a Coordination Center for water and health issues. It manages an updated information service and supports epidemiological surveillance and mental health. More information can be found at the website,

12. UNICEF started implementing an immediate and short-term action plan that covers five areas to complement the efforts of other national/international actors (immediate child protection; emergency water, sanitation and hygienic measures; back-to-school initiative; support to indigenous communities and communication and social mobilisation strategy). In the Back-to-School initiative, UNICEF is distributing "edukits (educational kits)" to 1,300 pre-school and 1,300 primary school children. Additional 22,000 kits are being planned for production and delivery in the forthcoming weeks.

13. UNDP has released additional funding to facilitate coordination of international response. The UNDP-Caracas now has a website at

14. The Executive Director of UNEP and Habitat, Mr. Klaus Topfer, will visit Venezuela from 12 to 13 January to meet with national authorities and identify areas where further assistance could be provided.

15. World Bank and Inter American Development Bank missions are working with the Government to facilitate design and implementation of operations to support rehabilitation.

16. Three OCHA disaster management experts will be assisting the UN Office and the national authorities for a period of three months during the transition phase.

17. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has a team of 21 Federation delegates in Venezuela, supporting the Venezuelan Red Cross in logistics, finance, relief, health, water and sanitation, telecommunications, reporting and family tracing activities.


18. The international assistance, which has been reported to OCHA as of today, may be found by clicking on Financial Tracking at the top of the page for this disaster on the OCHA Internet Website (

19. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. Funds should be transferred to OCHA account No. CO-590.160.0, Swift code: UBSWCHZ12A at the UBS AG, P.O. Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: OCHA - Venezuela - Floods. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

20. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies is available on the OCHA Internet Website at:

Telephone number: + 41-22-917-1234
In case of emergency only: + 41 22 917 2010

Desk Officers: Mr. Erik Haegglund, direct tel: + 41-22-917-3299,
Mr. Carlos Monteiro-Pereira, direct tel: +41-22-917-1383 and
Ms. Masayo Kondo, direct tel: +41-22-917-1997

Contact person for the media: Mr. Donato Kiniger-Passigli, direct tel: +41-22-917-2653

Telex 41 42 42 ocha ch
Fax: + 41 22 917 0023


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