As rains continue, UN assists flood victims in Ecuador

20 March 2006

With some 17,000 families directly or indirectly affected by flooding and landslides in Ecuador, United Nations agencies today announced plans for emergency relief focusing on food, drinking water, medicines and sanitation supplies as well as assistance for the repair and reconstruction of homes.

“The main challenges are that the buildings housing evacuated families are improvised and lack basic services such as safe drinking water and electricity,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, noting that the world organization has already allocated two cash grants totalling $80,000.

“Local authorities also lack the necessary food and other relief supplies, as well as of the means to protect and care for the most vulnerable groups,” it added of the national response, which is focusing on 5,000 families classified as highly vulnerable. According to national authorities, the flooding has taken nine lives and destroyed the homes of 474 families.

UN recovery efforts are to be led by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). At the request of the UN Resident Coordinator in Ecuador, OCHA allocated an emergency cash grant of $40,000, as well as an additional $40,000 from emergency funds pre-positioned with OCHA by the Government of Norway, to buy food and medical and sanitation supplies.

OCHA’s Regional Support Office in Panama remains in contact with the Resident Coordinator and stands ready to offer additional support as necessary.

At the request of the Government, the UN sent an inter-agency assessment team to the affected provinces of Esmeraldas, Guayas, Los Rios, and Manabi last month, consisting of staff from the UN World Food Programme (WFP), UNDP, UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Due to the worsening of the situation, WFP dispatched an additional assessment team to Manabi last week. The current flooding is affecting areas that already suffered from floods in 2005. The National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology expects heavy rains to continue until April.


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