Tomorrow, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, and Mr. Youssef Mahmoud, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Guyana, will launch a United Nations Flash Appeal in Georgetown to assist flood victims.
1. Dry weather is expected in Guyana according to the 5-day weather prognosis. The authorities estimate that it will take 10 to 14 days to remove the floodwater from the land in the affected areas, except Mahaica Creek area where it could take 2-3 weeks before the waters recede.
2. The authorities reported 45 mm of rainfall for the first two days of February, compared to a total normal average of 96 mm for the whole month. February is normally part of the dry season in Guyana.
3. A shooting incident occurred during a food distribution in Buxton on the East Coast Demerara, at approximately 25 km from the capital Georgetown. The shooting targeted a cleric as he was distributing food late at night. The incident did not cause any death or casualty but raised concern about the security of aid distributions. The national authorities have reported to international aid agencies on this event at the daily relief coordination meetings.
4. The need for test kits for leptospirosis has been identified. So far, the health authorities reported 2 confirmed and 8 suspected deaths from this disease. If not treated, leptospirosis can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress and, in rare cases, death (see also Health Section).
5. The Government has made a call for hydraulic pumps with an 80 cubic-feet per second capacity.
6. Distribution of adequate water supply remains a concern. The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) is working on reestablishing the public water supply but the floods hamper these efforts. There is still a need to ship significant amounts of bottled water to the cut-off communities.
However, there is a shortage of transportation means.
7. The Civil Defense Commission (CDC) has taken over the management of relief coordination meetings from the Joint Operations Centre (JOC).
8. The Government has announced that it is working on installing additional community kitchens in order to enhance the nutritional value of relief food assistance and prevent an accumulation of garbage, which was becoming alarming. The authorities are also communicating to the public on waste disposal arrangements and advising on healthy handling of fresh produce.
9. The challenges of accessing the flooded communities in the backlands hamper both national and international aid efforts. The national authorities have organized boat transportation along the East Coast of Demerara and offered the population to make requests for transport and evacuations if required.
10. The PAHO Supply Management System (SUMA) continues to collect information on donations arriving in country. To date, a number of national relief donations have been registered, as well as contributions from Japan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States. SUMA registration points are located at the international airport of Georgetown, CDC and the Police Department Headquarters.
11. Out of these contributions, CDC has made food and drink (water and
other) distributions to persons living in temporary shelters. Other contributions that SUMA has registered include water treatment items, clothing, blankets and other non-food relief items, generators and water tanks.
Response by Sector
12. WFP will distribute family food rations and high-energy biscuits to approximately 6,000 people, including 2,200 children in the shelters in the East coast with support from CDC and the Guyana Defense Force (GDF).
Some of this assistance will have to be delivered by boat and relying on local organizations. WFP is also assessing other areas outside of Georgetown to identify needs for food assistance to children.
13. WFP has identified 3,236 families in 10 communities along the East Coast affected by the floods that require immediate food assistance. At least 70 percent are rural families that depend on farming for survival.
14. The Guyana Red Cross reports that its food parcels distribution has reached 5,884 families in more than 50 communities. Food is now being purchased for a second round of relief distribution, together with non-food items.
15. The loss of sugar and rice crops, as well as the precarious living conditions of livestock, is of concern. Although rice farmers are pumping out water to dry rice fields, they are concerned that the water will not drain fast enough before the harvest season begins in two weeks, in which case the crops would be lost.
16. The Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, the United Nations System, the Guyana Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cress and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are organizing the use of 6 boats provided by the United Kingdom Royal National Life Boat Institute. The United States, for its part, has provided 12 boats for the relief effort in Guyana.
17. Further to an emergency cash contribution of US$ 50,000 provided by OCHA for the purchase of boats, UNDP expects that a total of 20 inflatable boats with motors and life vests will arrive in the country on 7 February. UNDP is discussing delivery of the boats with the CDC.
Shelters and non-food items
18. The Guyana Red Cross reports that blankets have been distributed to
1,532 families. A second distribution is in the planning. The Guyana Red Cross also plans to distribute kitchen sets and plastic sheeting to beneficiaries living in shelters. Approximately 3,700 persons remain in temporary shelters.
Water and sanitation
19. While relief supplies of water continue to be provided, national and international aid partners, including PAHO and UNICEF, are planning interventions in the sanitation sector, which is instrumental in order to create a healthy environment for the affected populations.
20. The Guyana Red Cross is planning a water distribution system for the east coast of the country, which will include two water tanks in each of 50 distribution points, with a total capacity of 100,400 gallons.
21. The Guyana Red Cross has distributed hygiene kits to 2,685 beneficiaries, and jerry cans to 1,810 families. It has also provided basic hygiene supplies to help prevent skin ailments, together with oral re-hydration salts, to assist those in the worst-affected communities and to prevent diarrhea and vomiting, particularly in children under 5 years of age. With support from the IFRC Regional office located in Trinidad and Tobago, the Guyana Red Cross is producing first aid messages and distributing them in the most affected communities.
22. There have been increased admissions to the Georgetown Public
Hospital Corporation (GPHC) with persons with a high index of suspicion
of leptospirosis. The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with
PAHO/WHO, has been undertaking rigorous disease surveillance to
determine if the disease patterns would suggest any new cases of
expected diseases in the population. There was an expectation that, as
many animals and rodents were in the flooded waters, most of the
population might have been exposed to leptospirosis. Up to 3 February,
at least 160,000 persons had received doxycycline prophylaxis through
the Ministry of Health. Many other private firms and aid agencies,
including UN agencies, provided medication to their staff. In addition,
advisories were sent to the public and medical practitioners alerting
them to the symptoms and encouraging them to seek medical attention.
23. To date, contingency plans are being made to increase the bed supply
at the main hospital in case there are many more additional cases.
PAHO/WHO is assisting the Ministry of Health in the acquisition of
additional test kits for leptospirosis and other diseases, as well as
cots for the emergency relief effort.
24. Mobile teams continue to visit villages on the East Coast with an
average patient contact of 6,000 per day. A total of 40 doctors have
been provided by Cuba and another 10 by Canada to the Government of
Guyana to assist in providing medical care. Many of the health centres
are being rehabilitated so that permanent sites can be re-opened. In the
interim, PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Health are undertaking assessments
to identify temporary sites that can be adapted to house health
facilities in the flooded areas where the health centres are still under
25. Public health messages are being disseminated to the public by the
electronic and print media. Greater effort will be made to mobilize
volunteers to take these messages door to door in affected communities.
26. Some schools that had been closed due to the flooding are reopening
as of 7 February, further to being cleaned and sanitized. Families in
flooded areas use boats to transport their children out of the flooded
areas to attend classes. Many schools, however, remain closed as they
are used as temporary shelter or are still flooded. UNICEF and other
partners are working on activities to assist in making schools healthy
and safe for the pupils.
27. The two Dutch experts, in collaboration with the Joint UNEP/OCHA
Environment Unit, have started their assessment of the West Demerara
Conservancy dam. The overtopping of the dam water levels was prevented
thanks to the decision of the national authorities to release water
through the northern sea wall. However, it has been noticed that the
water is draining slowly due to damaged outlet structures and the fact
that water can only be released at low tide.
28. The two experts have conveyed to the relevant national authorities
that further measures should be put in place to increase the discharge
of water. They have also expressed their concerns about the fact that
plugged culverts and pipes should be cleaned to facilitate the
29. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team
is progressively handing over its UN support functions to the United
Nations Resident Coordinator in collaboration with UNDP. The UNDP
country office has now been temporarily reinforced by one staff from
UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR). More durable
arrangements will need to be found.
30. A World Bank Disaster Assessment Team is also in country to assess
31. This situation report, together with the information on
contributions and other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the
OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
Tel. +41-22-917 1234
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10
Mr. Erik Haegglund
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 3299
Mr. Ricardo Mena
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 1455
Ms. Masayo Kondo
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 1977
GVA - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. + 41-22-917 26 53
NYC - Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26
NYC - Mr. Brian Grogan, direct Tel. +1-212-963 11 43