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Disaster Response

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According to UNDP reports, 88.7 percent of El Salvador’s territory is susceptible to severe impacts of natural disasters and approximately 95.4 percent of El Salvador’s population is at some risk.  Disasters affect stocks of physical and human capital and ultimately reduce per capita GDP growth rates and the domestic savings rate.

USAID has a robust history of involvement in disaster relief in El Salvador. Over the last 30 years, USAID has provided approximately $400 million to rehabilitate and rebuild key infrastructure damaged by natural disasters.

From the disastrous effects of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and other natural phenomena that hit the country earlier, to the earthquakes in 2001, and flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Stan and the simultaneous eruption of the Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) volcano in 2005, USAID has played a key role in providing disaster relief to the people of El Salvador. More recently, the U.S. Government provided both immediate and long-term relief efforts following Tropical Storm Ida in November 2009 and Tropical Storm 12-E in October of 2011.


Disaster Preparedness 

USAID/OFDA provided nearly $150,000 to the American Red Cross to ensure that communities, schools, and civil protection agencies in close proximity to El Salvador’s Chaparrastique Volcano, which erupted in December 2013, are ready to cope with disasters. The project, which targets nearly 6,400 people, includes activities such as first-aid training; the formation of community committees and disaster plans; installation of early warning systems; and drills and simulation exercises to bolster community preparedness to address future emergencies.

USAID/OFDA is also providing $150,000 to strengthen community capacity in Isla de Mendez, to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of tsunamis and floods. The project aims to reach nearly 2,500 people over a nine-month period to improve the population’s understanding of tsunamis and enhance preparedness knowledge. The project’s main activities include a variety of capacity building sessions with children and adults, an early warning system linked to national and regional warning systems, and the design and construction of an elevated temporary shelter facility within the Isla de Mendez community.

Tropical Storm 12-E: October 2011

In October 2011, Tropical Storm 12-E caused flooding and mudslides across El Salvador. USAID provided a total of $621,151 in emergency response for temporary shelters, water, hygiene kits and temporary educational and recreational activities in shelters.

Tropical Storm Ida: November 8, 2009

The U.S. Government, through USAID, provided $25 million for emergency relief and reconstruction to repair bridges, schools and health facilities after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Ida, which caused severe damage and loss of life in five of El Salvador’s 14 departments: San Salvador, La Paz, Cuscatlán, San Vicente, and La Libertad.

The Tropical Storm Ida assistance included reconstruction of the San Antonio Bridge in La Liberated, the Acahuapa Bridge in San Vicente, seven schools and one health clinic.

Tropical Storm Stan and Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) Volcano Eruption: October 2005

The severe flooding caused by Tropical Storm Stan, coupled with the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano in early October 2005, affected approximately half of the population of El Salvador. USAID provided emergency relief supplies - mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits and temporary shelters.

After the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano, USAID developed a program that strengthened risk mitigation and disaster management in the municipalities directly affected by the Ilamatepec volcano. In coordination with the National Civil Protection System and the Ministries of Education and Health, the program promoted emergency response activities; equipped shelters, operation centers, and emergency brigades.

Earthquakes: January 13, 2001 and February 13, 2001

During the emergency stage, January to May 2001, the U.S. government provided $20.5 million in emergency assistance.  USAID provided 23,000 temporary houses, 33 temporary schools, 12 temporary hospitals and clinics, water, food, mattresses, medicines and emergency kits and other emergency supplies.

USAID’s $170 million Earthquake Reconstruction Program provided assistance to more than 1,000 affected communities. The program built 26,872 permanent homes for families affected by the earthquakes, rebuilt 53 schools, 19 city halls, five health units, and three markets, among other infrastructure.  Nearly 14,000 small farmers received assistance to improve and generate value-added to their production to help raise incomes, which also generated 5,000 new jobs. USAID also provided assistance to small and micro enterprises and micro finance institutions. Approximately 152,000 children and the elderly were fed under a food distribution program for one year.

Hurricane Mitch: October 30, 1998

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Mitch USAID provided $5.5 million for humanitarian assistance, with $1.1 million for water and sanitation.  During the emergency phase, USAID reconstructed over 4,600 wells, 4,750 latrines and repaired water systems for 10,600 beneficiaries. During the reconstruction phase, USAID’s $25.8 million in assistance was used for 51 small infrastructure projects, including shelters in schools, dispensaries, bridges, and rural roads, benefiting over 79,000 people. Over 5,500 farmers received agricultural assistance and training. USAID built 500 new homes and 79 schools were repaired or rebuilt.  In addition, 136 kilometers of rural roads were repaired and 205 kilometers of electrical distribution lines were put in place.