YEMEN: Thousands of flood victims in “post-emergency limbo”
Hundreds of families lost their homes during the October 2008 floods
SANAA, 20 April 2009 (IRIN) - Delays in recovery efforts in the flood-hit governorates of Hadhramaut and al-Mahrah, southeastern Yemen, are putting the lives of thousands of survivors in jeopardy, aid workers have said.
Giancarlo Cirri, World Food Programme (WFP) country director for Yemen, said recovery efforts since the October 2008 floods
were insufficient, and that this was prolonging the emergency period unnecessarily.
"We are still in an emergency situation because recovery activities are not gaining steam. The flood-affected persons need much more than food. As long as these recovery activities are not [taking place] on the ground, we will be in an emergency situation. Flood victims are caught in a post-emergency limbo," he told IRIN on 15 April.
The floods left 80 dead and displaced 25,000, mainly in Hadhramaut Governorate, according to the government and confirmed by a UN rapid assessment mission. They said an estimated 111,832 people had been affected by the floods in one way or another.
Photo: Muhammed al-Jabri/IRIN
|Reconstruction work has not started yet in flood-hit areas
The 25,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been receiving regular food assistance since immediately after the floods. But a recent WFP food security assessment found that another 18,000 flood victims, including displaced and non-displaced people, should also be registered to receive food assistance.
Ali Sabih, a member of the local council in Tarim District in Hadhramaut, said the problem was that the government teams tasked with assessing damage did not register all flood victim families.
"This is because they were confused about how to deal with the issue," he told IRIN.
Mohsen al-Duwailah, head of the Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW) in Seyoun, Hadhramaut Governorate, told IRIN there were still a lot of flood victims unable to provide food for their families.
"They have lost their livelihoods in the floods. We have heard they do not receive food assistance. No one is looking after them," he said.
House rebuilding not under way
According to al-Duwailah, reconstructing damaged houses was the biggest challenge, because without homes to live in daily life for IDPs would be very difficult.
While some IDPs are being hosted by relatives, many have been settled temporarily in houses rented by local aid agencies. Al-Duwailah said the real problem would occur when the leases ended in six months.
"Some flood victims have told us they won't be able to afford the rent when their temporary lodging period is finished in six months' time," he said, adding that CSSW has rented houses for some 425 families in Hadhramaut.
On 8 April the government's reconstruction fund in Hadhramaut and al-Mahrah agreed to allocate five billion riyals (US$25 million) to reconstruct damaged houses.
Local council member Sabih said there was no evidence of any reconstruction work on the ground, and flood victims were worried.
“Huge funding shortfall”
WFP's Cirri said an estimated US$3 million was needed to provide food for the newly registered 18,000 flood victims in Hadhramaut and al-Mahrah governorates.
"They [18,000 people] are in need of food. For the time being, we are facing a huge funding shortfall… [which] we are discussing with donors to attract their attention to the immediate need to fund this operation," he said, adding that food assistance would help them devote some time to recovery activities.
So far, 1,165 metric tonnes of food has been distributed among IDPs, mostly by the government and WFP. The aid includes cereals, dates, sugar, canned fish, cooking oil and tomato paste.