Revision of the Flash Appeal for Honduras 2009
In October 2008, Honduras was affected by heavy rainfall due to two tropical depressions. Tropical Depression 16 remained over the country for two weeks starting 13 October and triggered floods in 17 of the country’s 18 departments. Precipitation doubled the historical median for the entire month of October in just the first half of the month, causing rivers to leave their natural courses. Worsening matters, Tropical Depression 43 moved slowly across the eastern side of the country from 23 to 25 October maintaining humid and unstable weather over much of the territory.
The resulting flooding and landslides caused loss of life and injuries, and affected 271,179 people (according to initial estimates) through extensive damage or loss of shelter and/or livelihoods. Some 57,681 people were declared by the authorities as severely affected, meaning they suffered a total loss of shelter and livelihoods, and required immediate humanitarian assistance. Some 72,085 hectares of crops were lost, and extensive damage was sustained to public infrastructure. The south and west of the country, which has some of the poorest economic, health and nutrition indicators, was particularly hard hit. Poor and isolated communities were especially affected, with the most vulnerable losing their livelihoods and income. Losses have been calculated at approximately 1% of the gross domestic product.
On 19 October, the President of the Republic declared a State of Emergency and assigned the responsibility for coordinating international cooperation to the Ministry of Technical and External Cooperation (SETCO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The UNCT and partners offered assistance to the relief effort primarily through the activation of sectoral groups for water and sanitation, shelter, health, food security and nutrition, early recovery, and telecommunications and logistics. A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Mission was requested and arrived on 22 October. Based on its and other assessments a Flash Appeal (FA) was issued on 29 October, and requested $17,086,986. As of 7 April 2009, $4,496,081 has been received (26%).
One of the notable successes of the good partnership between the Honduran Government and UNCT was that food was delivered as planned in the FA. Some 750 metric tons were delivered to more than 136,000 people during the first 22 days of the humanitarian phase of the emergency, with women representing more than 80% of the food recipients. This timely response, and an effective targeting of the most affected population, was facilitated by WFP’s strong field presence, a reliable emergency food network, and agreements with the Government through the National Emergency Commission (COPECO), local authorities, UN agencies and NGOs.
Most of the assistance delivered as planned in the FA met the immediate needs of people living in temporary shelters, and in areas where transport routes were disrupted by heavy rains, floods and landslides. Airlifts and pre-positioned relief items ensured that assistance was delivered to isolated or distant communities. Although special attention was also given to a smooth and rapid transition to an early recovery process, supporting for example the rehabilitation of water and sanitations systems, damaged houses, and rural roads, this has been hampered by a lack of funding.
The UNCT conducted a review of the FA from January to March 2009 to follow up on the impacts and consequences of the tropical depressions, especially regarding the situation of the affected people and their needs. Findings have shown that beyond the significant return of the majority of persons displaced by the flooding, and the dismantlement or closure of emergency shelters, the humanitarian situation has not changed considerably. The strategy and response plans elaborated in the initial FA are still considered relevant, and thus do not need to be altered. (However, needs have not been systematically assessed since October, except as footnoted in the following sections.) No changes have been made to projects or to funds requested, hence a full revision has therefore not been considered necessary.
In addition, the Government has identified and negotiated around US$ 130 million of international assistance aimed at supporting the implementation of its “Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan for the Damages caused by Tropical Depression # 16 and Related Phenomenon.” This Plan reinforces the overall strategy of the FA and brings additional resources and actors than those originally planned for in the Appeal’s framework. Although this revised Appeal has one month left to run, and although very little needed to be changed in terms of strategy and response, affected populations still require assistance with shelter, non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene, food, and with recovering their livelihoods. This updated FA’s unmet requirements amount to $12,590,905.