|Supplement to WFP Emergency Report no. 05 (of 1999): Colombia Earthquake
Issued weekly by the United Nations World Food
Report No. 05 of
1999 Date: 5 February 1999
REPORT OF WFP MISSION TO EARTHQUAKE AFFECTED AREAS OF COLOMBIA (extracts)
Date of Mission: 29 January to 3 February 1999.
Report finalized 4 February 1999
Subject: Need assessment mission to area hit by earthquake in Colombia.
Participants: Jean Quartier, Chief Logistics Officer, Rome and Fredrik Lindblom,
Head of Monitoring & Evaluation Unit, EMOP 6079, Nicaragua
The above mentioned officials carried out a needs assessment mission to the
earthquake struck western-central area of Colombia between 29.01.99 and 03.02.99. The
objective of the mission was to estimate total of beneficiaries, establish logistical
needs and procedures as well as the mode of implementation, to rapidly elaborate an WFP
Emergency Operation (EMOP).
After having been thoroughly briefed by the Senior Liaison Officer Ms. Rosa Antolin and
the Country Director Ms. Guillermina Segura and her staff, the team departed to the
disaster area on the 30.01.99 together with the Coordinator for the Immediate Response
Emergency Operation Mr. Potes.
Although, short visits were made in various towns in the affected area, such as Manizales,
Chinchina, Pereira etc, the team focused on the city of Armenia and the need of its region
Quindio. Visits were also made for a logistical purpose in the airports of Manizales and
Cartago, the warehouse in Cartago and the port of Buena Ventura. The team was assisted by
staff belonging to the Federation of Coffee Growers, which previously has carried out
projects for WFP and is considered as one of the two counterparts for the execution of the
On January 25, 1999 at approximately 13:20 hrs. local time (18:20 GMT), an
earthquake struck western-central Colombia, across the country's coffee-growing heartland.
The magnitude 6.0 earthquake on the Richter scale was felt as far away as the
capital, Bogota, 225 kilometers (140 miles) from the epicenter, in a mountainous region on
the borders of Tolima and Quindio provinces. Four strong aftershocks, including one
registering 5.6 occurred four hours after the main quake. This is the worst earthquake in
at least 16 years. At the moment, official figures indicate that 922 people have
died, and that there are thousands of people injured or missing. An estimated 60% of
the buildings were destroyed or have to be demolished in the capital of Quindio, Armenia.
Official estimates indicate that more than 200,000 people are homeless.
Damage to Infrastructure
In Armenia and the urban areas of Quindio it is believed that a total of 60% of
the building have been destroyed. Almost all schools and health posts have been destroyed,
although two main hospitals are functioning. There are no reports of damaged bridges and
although the water, telecommunications and electricity systems were put out of order,
these services are now available in large parts of the urban areas. The airport was also
hit but is now functioning. By 01.02.99 banks, supermarkets and restaurants were open in
the northern part of the city of Armenia.
In the rural areas an estimate provided by the Federation of Coffee Growers, after having
visited approximately 12% of the farms in the region, showed that 54% of the houses had
been partially destroyed while 24% had been totally destroyed. Furthermore, landslides had
cut off some access roads.
Damage in Agriculture
Above mentioned estimate also concluded that although the coffee crop has not
been damage, 27% of the productive infrastructure has been partially destroyed while 18%
totally destroyed. As the region's most important product is coffee, it goes without
saying that ensuring the coffee harvest is of utmost importance for the regions economic
Present Food Situation
The government is ensuring food assistance to the affected population through its
agency "Red de Solidaridad". Although initial confusion and disorganization
created looting and disturbances, the food assistance is now estimated to get to the
majority of the affected. According to the responsible for "Red de Solidaridad
Social" and Dr. Urrutia, a total of 150 MT are being distributed daily since 29.01.99
through direct distribution and through community kitchens. A total of 31 of these
kitchens (they all have between 3-6 stations) are working but the agency's aim is to
establish a total of 60. Present food stocks are estimated to last until 04.02.99.
According to Dr. Urrutia WFP food assistance would enable him to reorient funds
from food purchasing to reconstruction which is highly important.
Although other regions have been affected, the region of Quindio is by far the
most damaged region. Therefore the estimated affected population and beneficiaries is
based on figures from this region. WFP implementing agencies will help to establish if
there would be a need to reorient assistance to areas outside Quindio region.
Since the rural area has less attention, WFP wants to focus on assisting the affected
rural population. However, as the vast majority of the region's inhabitants are urban
dwellers, the EMOP considers an urban component consisting of assistance to vulnerable
Using the estimates of affected in the rural areas previously mentioned, it was
established that a total of 78% of the rural population was affected at least partially.
Taking into consideration a rural population of 70,500 persons (official statistics) and
in discussions at the Country Office, the number of beneficiaries was set at 50,000.
Regarding the estimated affected in the urban areas, which range between 100,000 and
200,000 due to different criteria (the International Coordination Unit managed the total
of 150,000 affected), the decision was taken to consider the estimates of beneficiaries
proposed by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF). Through their system of
assistance prior to the earthquake the institute was delivering food assistance to a total
of 17,900 needy women and children. As a result of the earthquake this distribution system
was expanded to include all family members belonging to an approximately 13,500 children
already receiving food assistance. With these additional family members ICBF estimates a
total of 70,000 beneficiaries.
Mode of Implementation
In view of the emphasis on the rural population as a whole and the urban
vulnerable population, the two chosen implementing agencies are the Federation of Coffee
Growers and ICBF.
The Federation of Coffee Growers will implement the component of assistance to the rural
caseload and distribute the food through informal food for work activities. It was made
clear to the Federation that they have to include other than coffee growers as
beneficiaries to avoid excluding a small but existing group of non-coffee producing
farmers. The Federation seems to be an well-organized entity with logistical capacity and
warehouses in all municipalities of the region as well as direct experience of
implementing WFP projects.
The informal food for work activities will focus on reconstruction of productive
infrastructure and dwellings including sanitation facilities. It is important to stress
the fact that food for work cannot be a condition for food assistance, due to the
emergency character of the assistance. Furthermore, it is important to repeat the fact
that an emergency operation does not require the same implementation as a development
project and that implementation should focus on the speedy delivery of food to
The ICBF will implement the urban component of the project. Although the
institution does not have experience in assisting greater number of beneficiaries, its
strength is that it is not creating a new structure but rather expanding an already
existing one as mentioned above. ICBF have worked closely with the Federation in the
implementation of various projects and can use the Federations warehouses etc.
Furthermore, ICBF has a warehouse in the city of Cartago, which will be used to store food
that will be imported.
ICBF will distribute food directly to its beneficiaries or through a total of 60 community
kitchens. It was decided that while the Federation is assisting the rural caseload, ICBF
would assist the small groups of urban beneficiaries in the urban centers of the
Non Food Items
The non food items necessary for the activities to be carried out under the
projects are building materials, tools and machinery for the reconstruction of houses and
productive infrastructure. Stoves and kitchen utensils will also bee needed for the
distribution of food to the urban caseload.
Food Strategy and Logistical Aspects
The Food Strategy centers on a combination of local purchases and the import of
products. Food will be distributed through an approximate 15 EDP's [WFP extended delivery
points] at the municipality level. WFP will support the entry logistics, transport,
storage and handling [LTSH] cost from port/intermediary storage to EDP's.
WFP will monitor all stages, from the arrival of food, or from the tendering if
local purchases are contemplated, until the final distribution of commodities to
beneficiaries. A simplified version of the monitoring and evaluation system that the
Federation of Coffee Growers used for the development projects, will be used for the rural
caseload while experience from the EMOP in Nicaragua will be used to design the monitoring
system for the urban case load.
The reports will include: Number of beneficiaries by province, municipality gender and
age; Nutritional status of beneficiaries by age and gender; Food situation, receipts,
loans, borrowings, reimbursements, transfers, distributions, losses, stock; Food Items
received and utilization; as well as Activities undertaken.
A Sub-Office should be opened in Armenia, where the office of ICBF also is located.
The monitoring and evaluation activities will be coordinated at the Sub-Office level where
a team of one Monitoring Officer (UNV) and five Food Aid Monitors will work under the
direct supervision of the Emergency Coordinator. Furthermore, an International Logistics
Officer and a Reporting Officer (UNV), are included in the EMOP and will be assigned to
the Country Office in Bogota, to strengthen the office's logistical capacity and to ensure
WFP Emergency Report issued by Manuel Aranda da Silva, Chief, Technical Support Service.
Available on the Internet on the WFP Home Page at http://www.wfp.org/
or by electronic mail from [email protected]
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