Guyana Floods Flash Appeal 2005
In January 2005, torrential rains caused serious flooding along the coastal region, which is the most densely populated area of Guyana. As a result, the Government declared Regions 3 (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara), Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) and Region 5 (Mahaica/Berbice) disaster areas. The coastal stretch between the capital Georgetown and Mahaica on the east bank of the Demerara River was particularly hit. The flooding affected around 290,000 people (39% of Guyana’s population); over half of them are women and almost one third are children under nine years. This is the largest disaster to hit Guyana in the last century.
Overnight, thousands were forced to flee their homes in the capital and coastal villages and close to 5,000 people have had to stay in temporary shelters. Meanwhile, a large proportion of the affected families became trapped in their homes, depending on daily delivery of food and water and highly exposed to disease and environmental health problems.
Three weeks after the peak of the emergency, an estimated 92,000 people still have water in their homes. Many areas remain accessible only by boat and the water level is reportedly still as high as 1.2-1.5 metres in some villages, while rivers have swollen alarmingly.
The risk of disease remains a major threat to the well being of the population in the affected areas. In effect, poor sanitation, waste management systems and vector proliferation have rendered the waters highly infectious.
The intensity of the crisis has had a serious impact on the normal coping mechanisms of families and communities, as many of the worst affected areas are also among the poorest.
Because of the current vulnerabilities, the new rainy season due in three months could generate new floods of catastrophic consequences in the affected areas.
Since the onset of the emergency, the United Nations system in Guyana has been working closely with the Government and other humanitarian partners to provide relief and assistance to those most affected by the floods. United Nations Agencies have been able to use immediately available resources as well as initial funding provided by the donor community.
This appeal covers the emergency and transitional response of the United Nations to the flood disaster in Guyana for a period of six months. The activities will address the humanitarian and community recovery needs identified in close collaboration with the Government and aid partners in Guyana, and particularly the following:
Immediate relief needs:
Access to safe water and adequate sanitation;
Intensified disease surveillance and access to medical care;
Disposal of solid waste and sanitation;
Access to food for the affected populations, especially the most vulnerable groups.
Humanitarian transitional needs:
Cleaning of homes and public buildings such as schools, health centres;
Re-establishment of health and educational services in the affected communities;
Re-establishment of the livelihoods of families as soon as they are able to return home.
The United Nations Flash Appeal for Guyana seeks US$ 2,975,000 to meet these needs.