Colombia: Massive flooding affects millions

3 May, 2011
A girl paddles a canoe at La Honda village in flood-affected Riosucio municipality. Credit: OCHA/Hector Latorre
A girl paddles a canoe at La Honda village in flood-affected Riosucio municipality. Credit: OCHA/Hector Latorre

With the onset of this year’s rainy season, the official number of people affected by flooding in Colombia has risen to 3 million, with 410 dead and another 482 missing. Last year, flooding affected over 2 million people, many of whom have yet to receive aid. Governors in some of the affected departments have reported that the flooding experienced this year is even worse than that in 2010.

“The emergency in some areas of the country is not yet over, and we are really concerned about the impact of the new rainy season on already affected communities,” says Stephanie Bunker, OCHA's Spokesperson.

A World Food Programme assessment conducted in eight departments between January and March 2011 showed that the food security and nutrition situation in flood-affected areas has deteriorated. Over a third of the surveyed households had no income and the recovery of crops lost due to flooding and landslides could take up to one year. In the hardest-hit areas along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, the number of daily meals has decreased to two, and in some cases one. This situation is made worse by a significant increase in food prices.

According to OCHA Colombia, the Colombian meteorological authority maintains red alerts for most of the main rivers and basins in the Andean region. Weather forecasts show that heavy rains are expected to continue until June 2011.

The flooding extends to many areas that are affected by long-standing armed conflict and also by the activities of new illegal armed groups. These groups have formed in recent years following the demobilization process of paramilitary groups. These groups are responsible for threats, killings and forced displacements in Colombia, a country that already has the second largest number of IDPs in the world.

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