Floods in Ecuador are affecting unprotected sectors
Quito, Ecuador, February 27, 2008- The emergency caused by heavy rainfall in the past weeks seriously affects 13 of the country’s provinces. To date powerful rains provoked 16 deaths, great damages to the infrastructure and agriculture and left many people homeless.
16,000 people have been evacuated to shelters, amongst them were more than 8,000 children. While the rains continue it is likely that the number of victims will rise.
At the end of January, when the climate phenomenon first started, few people were willing to move to shelters, to which the Ecuadorian Government responded by declaring a state of emergency on the coast. The heavy rains continued for three weeks, causing the Government to declare a National State of Emergency, which involves the participation of national military forces.
The effects of the rains include rivers bursting their banks, flooding and deaths (including children), as well as submerged crops, destruction of fields and houses, displacements, and death of animals. Schools and churches are used as temporary shelters. People lost their belongings and face high risk of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections, skin diseases, leptospirosis and problems caused by snake bites.
In response to the Government’s official request for aid last Friday, UNICEF is going to deliver 600 mosquito nets, 100 mattresses, 100 blankets, 100 hygiene kits, 400 “Return to Happiness” backpacks for the shelters, as well as 500 water tanks and 14 water chloride equipments.
In the meantime, UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health in the prevention and treatment of diarrhea-caused diseases by providing oral dehydrations salts. This week, UNICEF staff will give intensive capacity training to 100 public functionaries in charge of organizing the shelters.
UNICEF is also working in cooperation with the United Nations’ Inter-Agency Team (UNETE) and it is part of UNDAC, which began its mission this week.
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