Hot Off The Press 

Cincinnati, Ohio -- February 5, 1999



1.  About 180,000 people are still in need of immediate relief assistance (the authorities are carrying out a census of the people affected by the earthquake, to know the exact dimensions of the tragedy and the existing requirements).  Damage to public services is severe. Water lines are being repaired (in Armenia about 70% are already in operation, while water supply systems in Calarca and Barcelona are not yet in operation). Reconstruction of water supply and sewage systems in the area will cost about USD50 million.

2.  Removal of rubble and debris will take a considerable amount of time because of the magnitude of the task at hand, which requires specialized equipment.

3.  The principal challenge in the next few months is related to reconstruction of housing in the Departments of Quindio, Risaralda, Tolina, Caldas and Valle del Caulca. It is estimated that in total approximately 35,000 homes (of which some 20,000 in Armenia only) have to be rebuilt or repaired.

4.  Schools and hospitals also suffered a considerable amount of damage. In Armenia, it is calculated that approximately 35 per cent of the public schools have been destroyed. Several hospitals must be totally or partially demolished.

Emergency requirements

5.  Many emergency needs still remain unmet, especially those related to the food requirements of about 180.000 persons and housing for about 35,000 families.  Another priority is the reconstruction of infrastructure (public services, roads, communications).

National response

6.  An Economic Emergency has been declared. Reconstruction of the disaster area has been incorporated as an additional chapter of the National Development Plan.

7.  Local Emergency Committees have been strengthened in Pereira and Armenia, and local funds have been created for reconstruction.

8.  A National Fund has been created for the reconstruction of the coffee-growing region headed by Luis Carlos Villegas (Executive Co-ordinator of the Presidency) and composed of various businessmen and high-ranking public officials. The Fund will be able to use funds that are transferred by way of agreements with other public and private entities.

9. Particular attention is being given to the involvement of the population in managing, under the leadership of the Local Emergency Committees, the emergency and reconstruction phases. In small municipalities, there has been a notable leadership by the Mayors. The National Disaster Prevention and Response Institute has formed an operating team together with the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare and the Social Solidarity Network.

International response

10.  The latest data on contributions, as reported to OCHA, can be accessed by clicking on FINANCIAL TRACKING on top of this page.

11.  The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team continues its mission in Colombia, carrying out assessment missions to disaster areas and assisting the UN-Disaster ManagementTeam (UN-DMT) in coordination activities.

12.  The United Nations Resident Coordinator participated in a national forum in the city of Armenia that dealt with the reconstruction needs of the region.  He has furthermore set up a technical team of five local experts in disaster management.   This team is advising the National Institute for Disaster Prevention and Response, the Local Emergency Committees, the Ministry of the Interior, the Vice-Ministry of Housing of the Ministry of Social-Economic, the National Planning Department and the Seismic Risks Commission. A coordination office has been established in the city of Pereira.

13.  WFP - Started a food-for-work programme, value of approximately USD 200,000.   WFP has also provided 25,000 individual rations for the next 20 days;  and 10,000 children will receive enriched biscuits with milk also during 20 days.

14. WFP will launch an emergency programme to assist 115,000 homeless for a period of six months. This programme that aims to maintain and enhance the nutritional status of the most vulnerable victims of the earthquake, such as children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, amounts to USD 2.98 million.

15. UNICEF - Priority has been given to the psycho-affective/social rehabilitation of traumatized children, a similar methodology is being used for these children as the one used in Central America after Hurricane Mitch.  UNICEF has also contributed to the establishment of 18 latrines (and 22 more are in process of installation). About 1, 000 survival family kits are being obtained, that include tents, kitchen utensils.  To facilitate the students' return to school, UNICEF has supplied school emergency kits for 80 classrooms.

16.  PAHO/WHO is providing support to the reestablishment of the health services and to emergency vaccination.

17.  FAO - Through its local projects in the disaster area, and in cooperation with the Federation of Coffee Growers, they have supported producers and peasants in the recovery of their installations.

18.  UNHCR and HABITAT are providing the services of experts in the area of displaced population.  HABITAT is furthermore cooperating with the authorities with regard to urban reconstruction in all of the affected municipalities.

19.  IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) - An emergency loan for USD 20 million has been approved, and IDB is working with the government to reorient towards reconstruction already existing credits to the approximate amount of USD 120 million.

20.  CAF (Corporacion Andina de Fomento) - CAF has granted initially USD 50,000 to attend immediate emergency requirements. A CAF mission is being scheduled to arrive in the country, whose primary task will be that of formulating the principal goals in the reconstruction of the physical and social infrastructure of the region.

21.  World Bank - On 2 February, a mission arrived in the country. Four important loans for a total of USD 120 million, will be reallocated.


22.  OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions for the immediate relief needs.  Funds channelled through OCHA will be spent in coordination with the relevant organizations of the UN system and OCHA will provide written confirmation of their use. Funds should be transferred to OCHA account No. CO-590.160.1 at the UBS AG, PO Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: OCHA - Colombia - Earthquake

23.  For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of relief missions, pledges or contributions and their corresponding values by item.

24.  This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at:http://

Telephone number: + 41-22-917-1234
In case of emergency only: + 41 22 917 2010
Desk Officers: Mr. Erik Haegglund, direct tel: + 41-22-917-3299
  and Mr. Carlos Monteiro-Pereira, direct tel: +41-22-917-1383
Contact person for the media:  Ms.  Elena Ponomareva, direct
Telex 41 42 42 ocha ch
Fax: + 41 22 917 0023
E-mail: [email protected]

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