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Hurricane Irma: UN system in Cuba launches Plan of Action seeking $55.8 million to assist over 2 million people in dire need of help

19 Sep 2017
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The United Nations system in Cuba launched today an Action Plan seeking $55.8 million to address the urgent needs of 2,151,080 people severely affected by Hurricane Irma in the 33 most affected municipalities.

Less than a year after the impact of Hurricane Matthew, and in a context of an intense drought, the strongest hurricane ever reported in the Atlantic hit Cuba for more than 72 hours, from 8 to 10 September, with 240-250 km/h winds and even stronger gusts, coastal inundation and waves of up to 9 meters. The diameter of its area of impact was so wide (800 km) that the strong winds and rain covered the greater part of the national territory. Due to its large size and slow movement, several territories were affected for more than 24 hours. 13 of the country’s 15 provinces, with a population of 9,485,235 people, were directly affected. This brutal hurricane caused severe damage to the living conditions of people in the affected territories.

Initial assessments estimate critical impacts caused by the destructive impact of the hurricane on housing, access to potable water and electric power services, health institutions and educational centers, institutions that store or distribute food, agricultural production and fishing, roads and telecommunications. National authorities are conducting assessments in all localities. The United Nations System is in dialogue with national and local authorities in regards to damage and has monitored all public and official sources of information. Given the magnitude of the disaster, the assessment of damage continues; however, preliminary estimates indicate that between 210,000 and 220,000 homes have been severely affected to date.

Critical damage to the electric power system, the loss of tanks and water collection systems - in homes and institutions - and damage to hydraulic systems and aqueducts, caused serious limitations in access to safe water and sanitation in these territories. 3.1 million people have experienced an impact on their water supply. This situation is critical, when combined with the drought that had already been affecting the region for four years.

This Plan of Action seeks to mobilize urgent funds to address the most urgent needs of 2,151,080 people. Its formulation is the result of the extensive dialogue with the national authorities. The Plan accompanies the country’s efforts to cover the immediate basic needs of the population, while supporting the improvement of the living conditions of those affected.

Special attention will be given to the response to priority groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women and infants, and girls and boys from a gender and non-discriminatory perspective. The Plan complements the efforts of national authorities and provides additional capacities to respond to the emergency.

The Plan of Action includes projects that address humanitarian issues and will be implemented during the initial six months. In addition, several projects will continue for an 18-month period, strengthening the transition towards recovery. The Plan establishes priorities and projects in the following sectors:

  • Shelter and Early Recovery
  • Food Security
  • Water, Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Health
  • Education
  • Coordination