Flash Appeal for El Salvador 2011

24 October 2011

The arrival of Tropical Depression12E in El Salvador on 10 October 2011 brought unprecedented heavy rainfall, accumulating more rain than Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and exceeds rain levels registered in the last 50 years.

The most impacted areas are especially along the coastline and the volcanic chain, in the east and centre of the country, which have historically been the most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Due to the persistence of the storm, two low-pressure systems were generated, leading to torrential rains for more than ten days in El Salvador, causing severe flooding and landslides in most of the country’s 14 departments.  Of particular importance is the fact that the tropical depression remained almost stationary over the country for themajority of the duration of the phenomenon.  This record-breaking rainfall levels caused all of the nation’s dams to reach their maximum capacity levels, thus triggering a rise in the discharge volume to 9000 cubic meters per second, further flooding populated zones and crops downstream, similar to what occurred with the devastating Hurricane Mitch in 1998.  Data from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) show that the levels of rainfall over in the period between 10 and 18 October reached 1500 millimetres.

To date, 35 people have been reported dead, two reported missing, and some 55,976 people have been evacuated to 638 shelters in all 14 departments of the country.  Estimated flooded homes total 20,000 at present, as well as 1,183 water wells.  The affected population is estimated at 300,000 people.  Infrastructure damage hampers access to affected areas as many roads are blocked by debris or isolated by flooding and landslides.  There is particular concern to ensure active monitoring of the two principal volcanoes, due to possible mudslides and seismic movements in populated areas, including the capital.

Exposure to natural disasters in El Salvador is very high.  Together with its exposure to a number of high impact natural threats (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, flooding, landslides, and drought), the socio-economic and physical vulnerability makes El Salvador one of the highest-risk countries in Latin America.

Due to the extent and magnitude of the impact, as well as the severe damage caused by rains in agricultural areas and infrastructure, El Salvador now faces one of the greatest disasters in its history. Fortunately, swift action taken by national, municipal and community based authorities, averted greater loss of life.  Although the Salvadoran Government is responding quickly and effectively to the crisis, there are still significant humanitarian gaps in the response that this appeal seeks to fill.  This Flash Appeal aims to solicit and mobilize from the international community additional and complementary support for the Government’s effort in maintaining the basic standards of humanitarian aid to effectively target the most immediate humanitarian needs and most vulnerable sectors of the affected population, including children, women and families living in shelters who have suffered livelihood devastation.  The Flash Appeal also aims to fill gaps in assistance targeted at isolated communities, which heretofore have received very little assistance.

Since the beginning of the disaster, a nationwide coordinated effort has been underway, with the participation of all humanitarian actors in the country, the support of international community and cooperation, and the active involvement of municipal-level communities, so as to ensure the most effective path from emergency relief to recovery and reconstruction.  All projects presented in this Flash Appeal will maintain a coordinated approach, ensuring synergies and complementarities as well as economies of scale, with the active participation of all stakeholders.

With respect to the humanitarian response strategic priorities, the following areas of intervention have been identified as critical to help immediately reduce existing vulnerabilities and respond to prevailing emergency needs:

i) Emergency Shelter, which includes collective centres management;
ii) delivery of lifesaving water,  sanitation and  hygiene (WASH) services;
iii) meeting immediate food needs of the population; and
iv) ensuring access to life-saving primary and secondary health care services for the population affected by the floods and landslides, including psychosocial support, detection and  prevention of outbreaks of communicable life threatening diseases.

The Flash Appeal also aims to provide focused and integral support to the affected population in ways that contribute to settling the foundation for sustainable recovery and reconstruction, which government authorities have already started to plan.

All actions outlined in the Flash Appeal will be carried out through well managed coordination between sectors and humanitarian actors, who will assume responsibility for the effective delivery of the humanitarian response. Based on available information, the Flash Appeal may be reviewed within a month to ensure its activities and strategies are in line with the evolving context.

In close coordination and complementary efforts with the Government of El Salvador, the international humanitarian community, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and United Nations (UN) agencies, the Flash Appeal seeks an initial amount of $[1]15,764,212 to address the immediate needs of approximately 300,000 people considered to be the hardest hit by the Tropical Depression 12E.  Priority activities that will be implemented through this Flash Appeal are in the clusters/sectors of: shelter, food assistance, WASH, health, education, protection and agriculture.

[1] All dollar signs in this document denote United States dollars.  Funding for this appeal should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS, fts@un.org), which will display its requirements and funding on the current appeals page.

Document History

24 October 2011

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