The second half of 2010 has been marked by severe flooding in much of the world. While flooding in Pakistan has dominated the headlines, floods in Colombia and the Balkans have displaced families and inflicted serious damage to homes, land and infrastructure.
CHF International is currently responding to one of the most underreported natural disasters of 2010. Unusually heavy seasonal rains in Colombia have caused massive flooding and subsequent mud and landslides, affecting over 1.5 million people. Since September the flooding has caused over 170 deaths, 220 injuries and damaged over 230,000 homes. On November 18, the Colombian government declared a public emergency in the Capital District and 28 of the country’s 32 provinces. The rising water levels have isolated many rural communities, and countless hectares of agricultural land have been lost.
In response to this emergency CHF is procuring two different types of non-food item (NFI) kits- hygiene kits and household kits- to be distributed to 1,550 households, assisting 7,750 people. The hygiene kits include basic items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary towels and razors to meet immediate health needs of the flood-affected peoples. The household kits, aimed at temporarily assisting families, consist of plastic sheeting to act as a protective shelter, a mattress, a 10 or 16-liter cooking pot and a water filter. The distribution o f NFI kits is intended to meet current humanitarian needs, save lives and prevent large-scale health and security risks.
Given the accelerated risk of disease and water-borne illness in flood environments, CHF is also carrying out a basic hygiene awareness campaign targeting all recipients of the hygiene kits. This campaign includes technical training and awareness for water purification and management systems, disease prevention (specifically water-borne diseases) and good-hygiene practices. These community level awareness activities provide simple reminders on the importance of hand washing, waste disposal, use and maintenance of clean latrines, water treatment and environmental cleanup of local streams and waterways. In addition, families will receive specific training on the operation and maintenance of the newly distributed water filters.
CHF International has been working in Colombia since 2001, implementing programs largely focused on humanitarian assistance and livelihoods development for displaced populations and other marginalized groups. In the past 9 years, CHF has provided nearly 450,000 humanitarian assistance kits to over 149,000 families.
With multiple global emergencies occurring in 2010, flooding in the Balkans – particularly Montenegro – has received less attention. This major regional crisis may be overlooked with the holiday season approaching.
On Monday, local authorities reported that approximately 20,000 people have been evacuated in the region after heavy rains caused more than $450 million in damage. In Montenegro, over 2,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the critical flood-affected areas, largely in the northern regions. Several rivers have burst their banks damaging homes, destroying bridges and closing roads. Montenegrin authorities report almost 70 percent of the country is threatened by flooding, which is unprecedented according to the Ministry of the Interior.
The Government of Montenegro has requested assistance from NATO, the US Government and the European Union, with some success. The local Red Cross is responding as quickly as it can, but immediate needs for food staples and other basic household items, are currently unmet.
CHF has been operating in Montenegro since 2002 and has recently started a project which works in the areas most afflicted by flooding. CHF’s organizational capacity, network of local partners, contacts in government and reputation among residents position us to swiftly and effectively respond to this developing crisis in collaboration with other relief organizations.
We respectfully ask your support in coming to the aid of people in need by supporting CHF’s flood response in Montenegro. Please donate here.