Central America Floods: UN launches US$15.7m appeal for El Salvador

26 October, 2011
Residents of the Icaco community in Usulutan, El Salvador, collect energy cookies provided by the World Food Programme. Credit: WFP/Tania Moreno
Residents of the Icaco community in Usulutan, El Salvador, collect energy cookies provided by the World Food Programme. Credit: WFP/Tania Moreno

The UN has called for US $15.7 million to help 300,000 El Salvadorians deal with catastrophic flooding over the next six months.

The government has described the floods as the worst disaster in the country’s history, as hundreds of thousands of people struggle to cope with record-breaking rainfall, and severe damage to the country’s agriculture and infrastructure.

“We are talking about a catastrophe,” says Roberto Valent, UN Resident Coordinator in El Salvador.

“Today more than ever, El Salvador needs the support of the international community - to save lives and keep it on the path to sustainable development.”

The appeal comes as countries across the region – including Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua - remain on top alert, due to intense and persistent rains since early October.

In El Salvador, 20,000 homes have been flooded, and 56,000 people have been evacuated to safe shelters – thanks to effective planning before the crisis.

"I live in the community of Santa Eduvigis. Along with my neighbors, we evacuated people who inhabited the lower lying parts to safer places," explains Mary, who has been housed in emergency shelter since the beginning of the emergency.

“When the landslides began, we had already evacuated the entire community.   Three people were trapped in a destroyed house, and together we were able to help rescue them.   On Tuesday (October 18) we arrived at the collective center in the Adolfo Pineda gym - in Santa Tecla.  We immediately organized ourselves and the women took charge of the kitchen for several days.”

There has also been an increase in cases of diarrhea, conjunctivitis, chicken pox, and dengue; and three cases of H1N1 have been reported. Health centers are struggling to cope, and the Sonsonate hospital - used for regional referrals - is working at only 30 per cent capacity.

The aid effort in El Salvador is further complicated by blocked roads, and authorities are actively monitoring the country’s two principal volcanoes, due to possible mudslides and seismic movements in populated areas - including the capital.

More>>  El Salvador Flash Appeal  -  ReliefWeb