Kingston, Jamaica, April 8, 2022 – On April 9, 2021, the explosive eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in the Caribbean, caused more than 13,000 people who live in the nearby red and orange zones to be evacuated. One year later, the impact of the disaster is still evident, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is focusing its efforts on shelter and socio-economic recovery, as the income of families has been affected by the eruption and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past year, the Red Cross has supported over 5,000 people with water, emergency relief supplies, hygiene and cleaning items, dignified housing solutions, risk communication and community engagement, as well as psychosocial and livelihood support.
Bernard Morgan, President of the SVG Red Cross, said:
“The Red Cross, along with our partners, has provided relief, psychosocial support, and access to basic services, however the work is still not done. We continue to focus our efforts on helping people recover, especially those who have lost their jobs or savings, and whose homes were severely damaged. The physical effects of the volcano may not be as visible now, but people are still dealing with the social, economic, and psychological effects of the eruption, especially the estimated 900 people who are still unable to move back to their homes.”
The Red Cross provided multipurpose grants to support approximately 1000 persons as well as supermarket vouchers for over 800 persons. In addition, over 300 small enterprises have received grants to restart farming, fishing and businesses that were interrupted by the eruption.
The Red Cross has supported over 210 highly vulnerable persons (74 families) to leave collective centres and to move into dignified shelter conditions through the provision of rental grants for a period of between 1-6 months depending on needs, with over 400 monthly grants distributed since September 2021.
James Bellamy, IFRC Deputy Operations Manager in the Americas, said:
“One year later, some people still don’t have their homes or usual means of income, as more than 100 homes continue to remain uninhabitable due to damage and increased risks from the eruption. The priority now for the Red Cross is to help communities strengthen and restore their livelihoods and living conditions. We will continue to assist families through our livelihood program, offer training opportunities and work with disadvantaged households to find long-term shelter solutions through both cash and in-kind assistance.”
Children have been at the core of the humanitarian response, with over 500 receiving psychosocial support kits including learning and recreational items. The IFRC collaborated with partners, like UNICEF and the Gender Affairs unit, to ensure child friendly spaces in collective centres.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and dengue outbreak, preventing the spread of the virus and dengue infections was a major part of the response. The Red Cross provided information about staying safe and healthy, and supplied family Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, as well as 400 hand sanitizer wall mounted units to the Ministry of Education for schools reopening for face-to-face learning.
The Red Cross also supported cleanup efforts following the eruption and distributed household cleaning kits to over 3,300 families and hygiene kits and COVID-19 kits to over 2,300 families.
In April 2021, the IFRC launched an appeal for 2,000,000 CHF to assist over 5,000 people in affected communities with shelter, health, clean water and livelihood support.
For more information:
In St. Vincent: Attica Allen +1 (784) 454-1989, [email protected]
In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva, +876 818 8575, [email protected]
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, +507 6999-3199, [email protected]
Kingston, Jamaica, October 9, 2021 – Hundreds of people affected by the explosive eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines six months ago are still unable to return home despite being given the all-clear to do so. Since the initial eruption on April 9, Red Cross teams have been supporting more than 4,000 people with water, emergency relief supplies, as well as hygiene and cleaning items and are now assisting families with recovery.
“The Red Cross has taken a holistic approach to the response. In the initial stages, we provided the basic relief items such as food, water and hygiene kits and now we are going into the livelihood recovery and housing support phase,” said Bernard Morgan, President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross (SVGRC), adding that psychosocial support, especially for children impacted by the disaster, is also a critical component of the response. The Red Cross provided over 400 children with psychosocial support kits including learning and recreational items and collaborated with partners, like UNICEF, to ensure child friendly spaces in shelters.
At least 1500 people (500 families) still require shelter support due to the level of damage sustained to their homes. The Red Cross is working closely with the Ministry of National Mobilisation as well as the Ministry of Education to help these families move into transitional rental accommodation, so the communal shelters (mainly schools) can be closed and handed over back to the Education ministry for the reopening of schools.
“Through the IFRC’s emergency appeal, we have issued cash vouchers to families who are returning home so they can purchase well-needed items and for those who are unable to return home just yet, we are providing them with financing to rent temporary housing for a few months, until their houses are repaired and habitable,” said James Bellamy, Deputy Operations Manager with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Americas.
This emergency is another example of overlapping crises, as the eruption affects a country already impacted by an ongoing dengue outbreak and the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, that has hit the tourism industry, one of the main economic activities of the island. The IFRC is concerned that the long-term effects of the eruption and the pandemic, combined with the possible development of more storm systems during the remainder of the hurricane season, could lead to an even more complex humanitarian crisis.
In St. Vincent: Nolisha Miller +1 (784) 493-4078 [email protected]
In Kingston, Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva, [email protected] + 1 876 818 8575
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, [email protected] + 506 8416 1771
Kingston/Geneva,19April 2021-Near20,000people have been directly affected by La Soufrière volcanic eruptions in St. Vincent and The Grenadines(SVG). As La Soufrière volcano remains highly active, these numbers may increase in the coming weeks and months.So far, almost 1,500 familiesin SVGhave been displaced and more than8,000 people have been evacuated and are staying at publicand privateshelters.Almostall ofthe 110,600 residents of the island have been indirectly affected by ashfall, water restrictions and the destruction of their livelihoods.An unquantified number of people have also been affected in neighboring islands.
SVG Red Cross volunteers have been supporting the evacuation efforts, providing first aid, promoting COVID-19 prevention, and distributing water, blankets, hygiene kits and basic needs items to the sheltered families.Immediate needs include access to water, food, health care, and hygiene, as well as cleaning and COVID-19 prevention items.
In response to this crisis,the International Federation of Red Cross and Red CrescentSocieties(IFRC)has launched anemergencyappealthatseeks a total of 2 million Swiss francs(CHF)to support theRed Cross Societies in SVG, Barbados, St.Lucia and Grenada to deliver assistance and support for 18 months to 5,400 people.The Red Cross actionswill be focusedonthedistribution ofmajorhouseholditems,andprovidinghealth care, psychosocial support,essentialhouseholditemsandaccess towater, sanitationandhygiene.Protecting people's livelihoods will also be a priority.
"We are here for the long run, we were here for the COVID-19 and dengue outbreaks, and we will be here when people go back to their homes. Upon returning, thousands of them willneed support in reactivating their family economy and generating new income,”saidAriel Kestens, IFRC’sHead of Delegation for the Dutch- and English-speaking Caribbean.“Using cash and vouchers is key not only to strengthen their resilience and recovery from these overlapping emergencies but also the local economy.”
Sincetheinitial explosive eruption on9April, La Soufrière has erupted several times.TheCaribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency has reported thatexplosions of similar or largermagnitude arelikely to continue to occur over the next few days, resulting in ashfall affecting not just St. Vincent and the Grenadines,butalsoBarbados,St. Lucia, Grenada,and Antigua and Barbuda.The IFRCwarnsthat if the eruptions continue into thecominghurricane season,thiscouldlead to an even more complex humanitarian crisis.
Kingston / Panama City, 11 April 2021 — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is working alongside the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross (SVGRC) to provide humanitarian aid to the population affected by the eruption of La Soufrière volcano.
Within 48 hours after the volcanic eruption, people’s most immediate needs include maternal and childcare for those staying in the high-risk areas; shelter, hygiene items, water, and items for COVID-19 prevention for those who have been evacuated.
The SVGRC is assisting the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) with evacuation sites and transport points, working to ensure even the most reluctant are evacuated for their safety. Needs assessment teams have been deployed to 100 shelters and in over ten communities, Red Cross volunteers have responded to assist those impacted.
“In addition to assisting with evacuation and shelter management, we are also doing contact tracing to ensure that family members who are displaced, are reconnected with their families. We are encouraging persons who aren’t in government shelters to register with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross,” said Harvey Farrell, SVGRC Vice President.
At evacuation centres, the Red Cross is also distributing hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses and water; and will continue to deliver messages about how to stay safe and healthy from COVID-19, and to avoid contracting dengue. Since early 2020, a dengue outbreak is hitting all health districts of the island.
IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) will allow the Red Cross network to ensure 700 sheltered families are receiving immediate support, including jerrycans, cleaning kits, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, COVID-19 prevention kits and first aid. Safe spaces for children in shelters will also be enabled in coordination with other organizations. Upon returning to their homes, persons would need support in recovering their livelihoods. The Red Cross will conduct an assessment to adequately determine those in need of this kind of assistance.
“This is a very difficult time to be relocating so many people as the island continues to battle COVID-19 and dengue. Red Cross volunteers and staff, many of whom are from the same affected communities and left their homes behind as well, are working tirelessly in these early days of the eruption,” said Ariel Kestens, IFRC Head of Delegation for the Dutch- and English speaking Caribbean.
Effective preparedness and early action in disaster saves lives and livelihoods. Since before the eruption, SVGRC has worked with communities to ensure they are ready to evacuate and had emergency go-bags packed with key documents and necessary supplies.
♪ Water come inna mi room
Mi sweep out some with mi broom
Di likkle dog laugh to see such fun
And di dish run away with the spoon ♪
It was catchy, it was humorous, it was enjoyed by persons as far as Nicaragua, however, it spoke to a very serious subject. It was a song about Hurricane Gilbert and the devastation wrought upon Jamaica in 1988. There are no wildly popular songs about Hurricanes Irma and Maria, perhaps because Lovindeer didn’t write one or maybe because, in this instance, the two hurricanes that came almost back to back caused so much destruction in 2017 that no humour could be found in the situation.
In readiness for the 2019 hurricane season five international organisations, based in the Caribbean, are working with national disaster offices and communities to strengthen disaster preparedness. Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as the Dominican Republic will improve preparedness during the hurricane season through improved localized early warning systems. Financial assistance was provided by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
The project has a four-pronged approach that includes improving the coordination of aid organisations. After Gilbert many international aid agencies sent zinc to Jamaica because thousands of homes had lost their roofs. However, as Community Early Warning Technical Specialist of the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Nicole Williams recalls, “there was no lumber on which to put the zinc or no nails to attach it to the houses.” This unfortunate circumstance did have a positive outcome - it led to the formation of regional organisations like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). However, the response to Hurricane Maria in Dominica demonstrated that there is still room for improvement. CDEMA and United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) have been working together to improve on the Regional Response Mechanism.
As part of the project there was a Training of Trainers in Dominica where members of the Dominica Red Cross received instruction on how to deliver early warning systems to the community. Early warning systems are an important aspect of preparedness because allows for early action to save lives and protect assets. National early warning is often not specific to an at-risk community. New communications tools are preferred over traditional radio and television messages. Understanding from where people receive messages and their needs is essential. The needs of vulnerable groups like women or differently-able persons are better considered in the design of alert messages. Karen Lawrence who is attached to the Dominica Meteorological Service described the training as “empowering, knowledge sharing, networking, so much so that people will be so informed that they will be able to make the right decisions at the right time, hence mitigating against all impacts of disasters.”
The international partnership aims is to work with national disaster offices and communities to improve preparedness. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) leads the team on this project and works with national disaster offices to improve communications, test plans through simulations and support public awareness and education. Communities will develop a better understanding of potential risk which will encourage their members to take protective actions.
Red Cross National Societies in the five countries, together with IFRC are supporting other local level actions. Ten communities will implement local early warning systems and will also be provided with the necessary technology to mitigate the risk. Early warning technology including rain gauges, flood staff gauges and warming signs. The technology is not limited to equipment but involves training of Community Disaster Relief Teams (CDRT) and the updating of disaster response plans which are tested through simulation exercises.
There have been 9-15 storms predicted for the 2019 hurricane season with the probability of 4-8 hurricanes. There is the likelihood that 2-4 of those hurricanes will be major ones. As was seen with Irma and Maria in 2017, two major hurricanes can have a severe impact on the Caribbean so the international team recently got together at the World Bank’s Understanding Risk Conference in Barbados 27 May- 1 June 2019 to share progress and plan the next steps. Hopefully there will be no need for witty ditties to be sung after the 2019 hurricane season, but it has arrived so get prepared!