18 April 2006

Additional Support Needed for Relief in Ecuador

NEW YORK, 12 April (OCHA) -- With the support of the United Nations, Ecuador is seeking additional international support for relief and recovery efforts in the wake of the flooding and landslides provoked by heavy rains, which have fallen on the country since early February.

Some 28,000 families have now been affected by the rains and floods, which continue in the coastal provinces of El Oro, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Los Ríos and Manabí (earlier estimates put the number of families affected at 17,000).  In Los Ríos province, hundreds of families have been evacuated to temporary shelters or the homes of relatives.  Affected families will require food assistance for three months, as agriculture is the primary livelihood of those in flood-affected areas.  Until the waters subside they will not be able to resume their production.

On 5 April, the Government of Ecuador officially requested international assistance to support relief efforts.  The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) provided an emergency cash grant totalling $80,000 and the World Food Programme (WFP) provided funds through its Contingency Agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Ministry of Social Welfare and Civil Defence for the purchase of food.

To date, 20,000 food rations have been purchased and are being distributed, with funds made available through WFP's Contingency Agreement.  Affected families in El Oro and Guayas will receive food supplies for one month; affected families in Manabí and Los Ríos will receive two months' supply.  Nearly 17,000 additional rations will be purchased with remaining funds from the Contingency Agreement and OCHA's emergency grant.

However, the quantity of food in the pipeline will be insufficient to cover the needs of affected families for the three-month period.  Including donations received from the neighbouring countries of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela and from the Red Cross, 60 per cent of needs have been covered.  Additional support is required to cover remaining needs.

In addition to the provision of food, United Nations agencies are providing support for health and clean drinking water.  In coordination with national authorities, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has provided more than 150,000 oral re-hydration salts for distribution in affected areas.  The World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO) is working with the Government to provide clean drinking water in shelters and support health centres, including with supply distributions, production of chlorine and implementation of a water quality surveillance system in flooded rural areas.

The Government continues to request international donations of food, household supplies, agricultural tools, clothing, mattresses and cash to support relief and recovery activities.  Technical and financial support for the reforestation of upstream river basins and conservation and use of mangroves as a preventive measure for the next winter rainy season are also requested.

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA, New York, tel.:  +1 917 367 5126, mobile:  +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA, New York, tel.:  +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA, Geneva, tel.:  +41 22 917 2653, mobile:  +41 79 473 4570.

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