Responding to the devastation caused in Peru by the August 15 earthquake, Action Against Hunger’s emergency response team is on the ground in Cañete, Chincha, and Pisco to assess the level of destruction to the water and sanitation infrastructure in the areas most affected by the quake.
“Fortunately, water is already being distributed via cistern tanks,” says Christian Modino, Emergency Coordinator, Action Against Hunger. “However, the distribution of water is just part of the provisional emergency response. Water networks need to be rehabilitated and reconstructed as soon as possible. Given the level of destruction this can take many months.”
From Pisco, Action Against Hunger’s logistician Seguimon Garcia adds, “We are particularly concerned about the situation in the rural mountain districts. Communities in these areas are among the poorest in the country, and until now these areas have been accessible only via helicopter. The emergency response has mainly concentrated on the cities. The population density in the mountainous areas may be lower, but the people living there still require urgent assistance.” Some Peruvians from remote settlements who managed to come down from the mountains after four days of walking gave an account of the devastation that they face.
“Hundreds of families seem to have had their irrigation systems destroyed by the earthquake,” says Modino. “These families are dependent on the cultivation of cotton and artichokes for their livelihoods, so Action Against Hunger’s reconstruction activities will be aimed at providing access to water needed for human consumption and for livelihood protection to prevent these families from becoming even more vulnerable.“
Action Against Hunger is receiving funding from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Caja Madrid’s Emergency Fund for Social Work specifically for this emergency. Action Against Hunger is putting together plans for an emergency intervention that will complement the activities of other organizations on the ground and target people living in the most isolated areas where emergency assistance has not yet reached. “The reconstruction of water and sanitation systems will have to be part of costly and complex projects,” concludes Modino. “However, this is the only way to move out of the emergency phase and ensure that the population can return to living without external assistance as soon as possible.”