MORE than four million Colombians are caught up in the country’s worst flooding for 40 years, reports children’s charity Plan International.
The official death toll has climbed to 486, with 43 still missing and a further 595 injured.
Thousands of families have been left homeless as flooding and landslides wrecked 16,200 houses and damaged 550,000 more – with roads, schools and health centres also swamped.
“During the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011, Colombia suffered the strongest rainy season in the last 40 years,” says National Director Gabriela Bucher.
“Ninety percent of the national population is living in risk prone areas. This is equivalent to a population of 39.6 million.”
As the main affected Plan communities are in Bolivar, the organisation has concentrated its disaster response efforts within these areas, particularly in the city of Cartagena.
“In Bayunca Pozón the water levels have even reached the rooftops”, warns Ms Bucher.
Plan’s aid workers are focusing on providing shelter, clean water and sanitation, as well as setting up safe spaces for children affected by the floods.
“In partnership with the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare, 200 breakfasts were provided for children under five years old in the areas of Altos de la Cruz and Ceibal.”
Protection workshops have also been carried out in shelters to provide support to families and ensure the safety of the vulnerable.
“We discussed with parents the care and protection measures of children in emergencies and how Plan and others can contribute to these goals,” says Ms Bucher.
“Plan continues to monitor the weather forecasts specifically in its areas of work, and the environmental and meteorological authorities will keep up their warning for new rains and floods until March 2012.”
For more information visit www.plan-uk.org
Notes to editors
1) Plan is a global children’s charity. We work with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future. A future you would want for all children, your family and friends. For over 70 years we’ve been taking action and standing up for every child’s right to fulfill their potential by:
• giving children a healthy start in life, including access to safe drinking water
• securing the education of girls and boys
• working with communities to prepare for and survive disasters
• inspiring children to take a lead in decisions that affect their lives
• enabling families to earn a living and plan for their children’s future.
We do what’s needed, where it’s needed most. We do what you would do. With your support children, families and entire communities have the power to move themselves from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity.
2) Plan UK is a member of The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 14 leading humanitarian aid agencies.
3) We work with children in 48 of the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future.
4) Plan was founded by British journalist John Langdon-Davies in 1937 to rescue orphans and other vulnerable children from the Spanish Civil War.
5) We have over 114,000 sponsors in the UK, generating £25 million a year, and 1.5 million sponsored children worldwide.
6) Sponsorship starts at £15-a-month and, rather than going to individual children and their families, funds projects to improve schooling, health, nutrition and livelihoods across communities.