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Cincinnati, Ohio -- February 18, 1999
Supplement to WFP Emergency Report no. 05 (of 1999): Colombia Earthquake Relief Operations

                          WFP EMERGENCY REPORT
        Issued weekly by the United Nations World Food Programme
             Report No. 05 of 1999    Date: 5 February 1999


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 EMOP.

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 recovery.

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 groups.

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.

Rural caseload:
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 beneficiaries.

Urban caseload:
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 municipalities.

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.

Performance Monitoring
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 comprehensive reporting.

WFP Emergency Report issued by Manuel Aranda da Silva, Chief, Technical Support Service. Available on the Internet on the WFP Home Page at or by electronic mail from [email protected] (fax 39 06 6513 2837). For information on resources, donors are requested to contact [email protected] or [email protected] at WFP Rome, telephone 39 06 6513 2004 or 06 6513 2250. The address of WFP is Via Cesare Giulio Viola 68, Parco dei Medici, 00148 Rome, Italy.