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Devastation caused by Colombian floods worse than feared

Source: Plan UK - Thu, 31 Mar 2011 10:00 GMT
Author: Plan UK - Iona Bergius
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DEVASTATION caused by floods in Colombia is worse than previously thought, warns children’s charity Plan UK.

More than 2.3 million Colombians have now been affected, according to a report by the National System of Disaster Attention and Prevention (SNPAD).

Torrential rains caused flooding and landslides across nearly two-thirds of the country, claiming 319 lives. The country’s infrastructure has also suffered several billion pounds-worth of damage.

Plan has scaled up its appeal to help Colombia’s flood victims - now seeking £1.25 million to provide emergency assistance to affected communities.

“Some parts of the country have been set back 15 to 20 years”, says Plan’s Country Director in Colombia, Gabriela Bucher.

With more than 370,000 homes either damaged or destroyed, many families have had to move into temporary shelters surrounded by floodwaters and dependent on food aid.

Colombian meteorologists have also predicted that rainfall will be heavier than normal during this year’s first rainy season. This has prompted fears of further flooding, mudslides and the spread of disease in April and May.

During February and early March, the level of rainfall around the capital Bogotá was 300 percent above average, causing yet more flooding in certain regions.

“The current emergency situation is not a sudden occurrence; it is a slow emerging situation. The real impact of the floods and their devastating character is gradually becoming clear,” says Ms Bucher.

The floods have contaminated water supplies and Plan staff in Colombia have warned that the need for safe drinking water is “critical” in the region of Atlántico.

Food scarcity is also a problem as roads have become inaccessible due to landslides. Entire crop yields have been destroyed and several million pounds of cattle have been lost. 

Plan is working to provide relief to thousands of victims of the floods and money raised by the current appeal will go to relief supplies such as food and hygiene packages and the construction of shelters.

“Some families have lost everything and many crops have been completely wiped out” says Ms Bucher. “We are working to make sure more than 16,000 people, including children, have enough food to survive.”

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