Paraguayan Red Cross Responds to Massive Flooding

Published: 31 December 2015 3:45 CET

Since December 15th, Paraguay has been in a state of emergency due to flooding caused by unusually heavy rainfall for the season.  Paraguayan Red Cross Branch Operations Centres, along with Asunción Municipality and the National Emergency Operations Directorate, estimate that 26,000 families have been affected over 42 zones in different areas of the country.  The torrential rains have caused the overflow of the Jejuí, Paraguay, Parana, Estero Yetity, Tebycuary, Tebycuarymi, Aquidaban, Aguaray-mí y Aguaray-Guazú and Ypane rivers.

The majority of the affected population reside in the riverside areas of the city of Asunción and the Central Department.  Their proximity to rivers that are prone to flooding exacerbates their existing vulnerabilities.  This history of flooding includes May 1983 where 6,700 families were affected, and again in July 2014 where 17,789 families were affected in Asunción alone.  The current floods have forced the evacuation of 15,000 families in Asunción to 114 temporary shelters.

The Regional Emergency Operations Centre of the San Pedro department has reported that 18,000 people (3,153 families) have been affected by either flooding and heavy rainfall or storms and hail storms across 15 districts in 50 communities.  Approximately 350.2mm of rain has fallen in San Pedro between November 23rd and December 14th, according to the Meteorology and Hydrology Directorate (DINAC).  This figure is expected to continue to rise due to the presence of El Niño.

Currently, there are 482 families that have been evacuated to higher ground and 563 families that are still cut off.  Additionally, an estimated 1,241 families are at risk due to their proximity to the affected rivers and the potential damage that may be incurred on their livelihoods.  The most affected populations risk damages or the complete loss of their belongings, homes, harvests, livestock, raw material for the production of bricks and other construction materials (clay and sand).

The Paraguayan Red Cross has activated the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of their San Pedro branch and is actively participating in the departmental EOC.  They have also mobilized a national intervention team of 45 people to the affected areas to deal with issues pertaining to risk management, health, social inclusion, disaster management and livelihoods.

With the goal of providing a comprehensive humanitarian response operation to address the consequences of these floods, the Paraguayan Red Cross has requested use of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).  This operation seeks to help 5,225 people (1,045 families) through interventions regarding health, psychosocial support, food security, water and sanitation and hygiene.  The Paraguayan Red Cross has also activated a fundraising campaign called Socios Protectores (Protector Partners), where Paraguayans can use their credit cards for monthly donations in exchange for shopping discounts at certain stores.

Some of the specific actions in this operation include providing information and training on proper emergency health practices and psychosocial support to 1,045 families, delivering hygiene kits and jerrycans to 600 families whose homes have been completely flooded and delivering good kits to families whose livelihoods and homes have been affected.  These deliveries will not overlap with those carried out by the Paraguayan government and are complementary to actions that are already underway, as is warranted in response to an event of this magnitude.


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