On the night of May 29th, in the municipality of Berlin, in the province Usulutan, a mudslide, carrying with it trees and rocks, buried the Brisas del Sol community. Ninety percent of the homes were severely damaged, four of them completely destroyed.
Three people died (including a four-year-old boy, his 14-year-old brother, and their father) and 80 people have taken shelter in the church in the city of Berlin. At the temporary shelter there is a pressing need for drinking water, dry and clean clothes, blankets, personal hygiene kits, mattresses, and medicine. As a first response to this local emergency, Oxfam directed a $12,000 to its partner organizations to provide clothing and hygiene kits, as well as water and sanitations equipment such as 20-liter water tanks for each family to store clean water.
Forecasts call for more heavy rains in the coming days. Oxfam’s partner organizations continue to evacuate communities at risk.
Each year people who live in conditions of poverty confront emergency situations. Because they lack resources, they are forced to construct their homes of weak materials in precarious places, where lands are cheap or abandoned. This makes them more vulnerable to heavy rains.
Oxfam works with organizations to prepare these communities to confront disasters and mitigate the damage they cause. In group training sessions they draw risk maps, form early warning, emergency, and first aid committees, and identify buildings in safer areas that can function as shelters. Once organized and trained, the communities can confront an eventual emergency in a coordinated fashion. Additionally, when organized and trained, these communities are more empowered to demand their rights and do advocacy work with national organizations to achieve changes in the current civil defense law, which gives communities a limited role.