Floods in Ghardaia

Floods in Ghardaia

Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) , Date: 16 Oct 2008

The International Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the International Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation’s disaster response system and increases the ability of National Societies to respond to disasters.

CHF 187,166 (USD 165,800 or EUR 121,690) has been allocated from the International Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Algerian Red Crescent (Algerian RC) in delivering immediate assistance to some 12,000 beneficiaries.

Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

Summary:

Floods caused by heavy rains have killed 89 people, injured 50, and left many thousands homeless in and around the Algerian oasis town of Ghardaia on 2 October 2008. 11,800 families are estimated to have been affected by the worst floods the region has been experiencing since decades. Eight of the 13 districts of the surrounding Ghardaia province have been affected by the floods and thousands of homes have been inundated.

The National Society has benefited from in kind and cash donations from other actors and is seeking to complement the operation with this DREF request. The DREF will support the Algerian RC in assisting 2,513 families (12,000 beneficiaries) with relief items (kitchen sets, blankets, mattresses, and water pumps); in its search and rescue efforts; and in cleaning up of the streets and the houses.

This operation is expected to be implemented by 31 December 2008; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 31 March, 2009).

The situation

Following the heavy rains in the beginning of October, mudslides overrun the riverbanks of Oued M’Zab and invaded the villages. Search and rescue operations have not been easy to conduct due to the difficulty in accessing some remote areas (road cuts, bad weather, phone and electricity lines’ cut). According to local witnesses, in some places, the amount of mud reached eight meters and some houses were buried up to the second floor. The authorities have confirmed the severity of the emergency situation and according to the last emergency cell coordination meeting on 11 October, 89 people were killed, 50 injured, 11,800 left homeless, and many other people are missing. A preliminary assessment reported at the emergency coordination cell in the wilaya indicated that more than 1,400 houses – often constructed with traditional stone walls bound by the mud – were flooded. In addition, the caves – the place where all food reserves for the winter are stored – are either completely or partially destroyed, or inaccessible. The affected people have lost all their belongings. The return of residents will be allowed based on the expertise of technicians and engineers of the public technical housing committee (CTC).

The region of Ghardaia is located in the valley of M’Zab, and geographically situated in the centre of the country (600 km south of the capital Algiers). It is in the middle of a desert and thus, has a dry climate with being very hot during the day and cold at night. The wind causes frequent sandstorms.

Algerian RC, civilian protection, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and volunteers are organizing their intervention on the site in favor of thousands of affected people. The solidarity of the Algerian population has also been seen concretely with the arrival of caravans of aid to disaster victims (three semitrailers of food were dispatched from Ayn Témouchent; several tonnes of food were carried by the wilaya of Jijel; four large tonnage trucks loaded with food and various items arrived in Ghardaia last Saturday), and more truckloads of mineral water and food are expected. As stated by the chief of staff of the wilaya of Jijel, these efforts accompanied the ones of volunteers including architects, engineers and administrators in civil engineering. The aid was collected by the wilaya with the assistance of the committee of Algerian RC as well as other local and district associations. Brigades from different sectors are still assessing the damage and all measures needed to complete this operation.

During the emergency phase, the National Society has launched public appeals and benefited from an effective resource mobilization which has been transformed into local in kind and cash donations. However, considering the importance of the losses and the number of homeless, the Algerian RC is seeking to continue to support the affected population during the post-emergency and rehabilitation phase.