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Guatemala Volcano Relief: Addressing the Risk of Flooding

 

Highlights

  • Action Against Hunger and local institutions are coordinating efforts to identify evacuation routes and areas of refuge from the imminent risk of rivers overflowing with large amounts of water and ash
  • Action Against Hunger is already providing water and basic sanitation in evacuation centres, which are continuing to reach more people in the last hours

 

Situation Overview

Although no further eruptions of Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano are expected, the increased risk of flooding and lahars (powerful and destructive mudflows) could lead to more devastation, especially during the current rainy season. This ongoing threat endangers communities far beyond the eruption zone, and may worsen the situation of more than 1.7 million people already affected by the eruption.

 

Action Against Hunger’s Response

The imminent possibility of rivers overflowing with a mixture of water and ash has caused Action Against Hunger Emergency Response Team Leader Victor Velasco to focus on “identifying evacuation routes and safe places where people can take refuge in case of alert, or protect water systems and livelihoods such as crops against flooding”.

The volcanic eruption and resulting tephra (rock fragments and materials ejected by an eruption), ash and mudflows have destroyed or damaged crops and livestock throughout the region, most significantly in the cities and surroundings of Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla. Emergency response to these areas has also been affected, limiting the delivery of food supplies and aid to support evacuation processes. Consequently, the number of people seeking refuge in shelters continues to increase, with more than 4500 currently recorded. Anticipating the potential for overcrowding in the coming days, portable toilets and showers are being installed and hygiene promotion campaigns implemented to proactively address hygiene and sanitation issues.

The company GIS4Tech and Action Against Hunger have worked closely to develop a geographic information system of the affected area, using satellite images to help identify which communities are at a higher risk of being affected by flooding and lahars.

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