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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI587 2004-04-19 14:14:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

DCHA/OFDA HUMANITARIAN UPDATE ON DJIBOUTI FLOODS

Tags:   EAID PREL PGOV SENV DJ 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DJIBOUTI 000587 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
USAID/W FOR DCHA AA RWINTER, DAA WGARVELINK, DAA LROGERS;
DCHA/OFDA THALMRAST-SANCHEZ, JBORNS, MMARX, IMACNAIRN,
KCHANNELL; DCHA/FFP LLANDIS, SBRADLEY, PMOHAN; AFR/EA
JSCHNEIDER, SMCCLURE; STATE FOR GJAFFNEY, NGAREY; NAIROBI
FOR MBEERS, REDSO ASISSON, NESTES, FFULLER; ROME FOR OHA;
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH; NSC FOR JDWORKEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PGOV SENV DJ
SUBJECT: DCHA/OFDA HUMANITARIAN UPDATE ON DJIBOUTI FLOODS

REF: A) DJIBOUTI 567; B) DJIBOUTI 540

-------
Summary
-------


1. (U) This is a USAID/DCHA/OFDA reporting cable, which
provides analysis on the humanitarian situation in Djibouti,
following OFDA Regional Advisor's April 15-18 assessment on
the impact of last week's flash floods.



2. (U) In light of unusually heavy rains, resulting flooding
and the inability of the host government to adequately
respond, the US Ambassador declared a disaster in Djibouti
on April 16 (reftel). Although estimated deaths are
expected to be much higher, 51 people are officially
reported dead, 23 injured, 37 people missing and 9,000
displaced to date. United Nations agencies and U.S. and
French military forces have assisted in emergency relief
efforts and are working with the Government of Djibouti
(GODJ) to determine additional needs. The most pressing
humanitarian concerns are focused on preventing widespread
cholera, typhoid and other epidemics which followed similar
flooding in 1994, and pre-positioned supplies will be
critical.



3. (U) USAID has responded to the emergency through
USAID/OFDA's provision of USD 100,000 in international
disaster assistance funds to the UN World Health
Organization (WHO) for emergency health kits for cholera and
diarrhea. In addition, the U.S. military, in close
collaboration with French military stationed in Djibouti,
has provided 100 body bags, six water pumps and emergency
water storage containers, and infrastructure repair on
damaged roads and railroads. DCHA/OFDA and Embassy Djibouti
believe that the USG response has thus far, reflected an
appropriate level of emergency support to the flooding
disaster in Djibouti. As additional needs emerge for
mitigation, rehabilitation and recovery efforts, assistance
from other donors should also be encouraged. End summary.



--------------------------


Flooding in Djibouti


--------------------------




4. (SBU) On April 13, a combination of torrential rains,
strong winds and high tides caused flash flooding and the
River Ambouli to burst its banks. Although the floods were
sudden onset, the ground had already been saturated by
watershed from heavy rains from the Ethiopian highlands. In
the early hours of the morning, water levels rose several
meters high within minutes in the Ambouli, Djebel, Gabode
and Boulaos quarters of the city. Since most of the
population was sleeping and caught unprepared, flood waters
rapidly swept away people and livestock. The French
military responded quickly and were able to rescue hundreds
of people stranded on rooftops. Although the GODJ has
officially recovered 51 bodies, many bodies have not yet
been recovered and the total estimated dead by the local
population and French military is between 200-350.



5. (U) Heavy damage in several neighborhoods is evident, as
flood waters destroyed structures and damaged contents of
homes and businesses. Water and electricity supply has been
cut in the most affected areas and damage to infrastructure
includes breaks in the municipal water system, breaks in the
railroad into the city and portions of roads and bridges
leading to the city washed out. Efforts are underway to
restore water and electricity, which is expected to be
available soon. Rehabilitation work is also underway on the
damaged roads and railroads, particularly as these represent
the main trade routes between Djibouti-Ethiopia, and thus,
the largest revenue generator.



6. (SBU) In the most affected areas, houses were completely
destroyed, displacing roughly 9,000 people. The displaced
have been temporarily sheltered in a primary school, but the
GODJ reportedly want to resettle the displaced in new areas
southwest of the city, where there are minimal or non-
existent services. International agencies have expressed
concern about humanitarian implications if the GODJ moves
forward without sufficient planning.



7. (SBU) Much of the city's poor population lives in densely
populated shantytowns (reftel). Although water is beginning
to recede, areas of the city with lower elevation have over
a meter of water remaining. With the resulting clean water
shortages, stagnant muddy water already contaminated by
livestock carcasses and broken sewage pipes, and
environmental damage from the flood, the threats of epidemic
prone diseases such as cholera are of pressing concern,
particularly since water and vector borne diseases are
already endemic in Djibouti. (Note: the last major flood
here occurred in 1994 and an estimated 120 people died.
Following the 1994 floods, an outbreak of 8,000 cases of
cholera and 32 deaths were registered. End note.)



8. (U) The UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the
Ministry of Health (MOH) estimate that 10,000 people in
affected flooded areas are particularly vulnerable to a
cholera epidemic, based on current conditions and
similarities to the 1994 floods. The floods have also
disrupted provision of basic health services due to the
total or partial destruction of main health care facilities
in the area, notably the centers in Farahad, Ibrahim Balala,
Arhiba and Amouli, which cover a population of 90,000
people. Medical equipment, drugs, cold chain and nutrition
substitution stocks were lost. The MOH is heading a health
emergency group, which includes the UN, to rapidly re-
establish basic health services in the affected areas,
install emergency surveillance for epidemic prone diseases
and strengthen preparedness for the expected cholera
outbreak. A response plan for cholera outbreaks has been
developed by the MOH.



--------------------------


Emergency Response to Date


--------------------------




9. (SBU) Due to limited disaster response capacities within
the country, a strongly coordinated multi-sectoral emergency
response has not been evident outside of international
organizations and the military. The strongest GODJ efforts
have come from the MOH, who have developed emergency health
response plans with WHO, repaired damaged health clinics and
sent out mobile health teams for surveillance of epidemics.
While the GODJ has clearly indicated that it will coordinate
all relief efforts, international agencies are working hard
to bolster these efforts. Emergency assistance provided to
date by various agencies includes:

A) USAID: USD 100,000 provided by USAID/OFDA in response to
the Ambassador's disaster declaration. Disaster funds will
be immediately channeled through the WHO for emergency
health kits. Emergency medical kits are expected to arrive
by the end of the week from pre-positioned WHO stockpiles.
Other development funds may be reprogrammed by USAID for
mitigation and recovery efforts depending on the needs and
priorities of the GODJ. [Note: other donors have not yet
provided funding for relief efforts, however the European
Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) conducted a rapid
assessment of the situation last week and may consider
providing assistance pending identified needs. End note.]

B) French Military: initial assistance included rescue of
people stranded in the floods, utilizing heavy equipment to
clear damaged railroads and roads, particularly along the
Djibouti to Ethiopia road; removal of bodies and provision
of body bags. Although the French military, assisted by the
U.S. military, had begun working on repair of the city water
supply system, the military has been pulled off working on
the system and the Djiboutians have officially taken over
repairs. Recently aired French TV documentaries over the
alleged political assassination of French Judge Bernard
Borrel in 1994 led to heightened political sensitivities
(detailed septel), which has impacted some relief efforts
underway by the military.

C) U.S. Military: in close coordination with the French
military, the U.S. military has assisted in repairing
damaged road, railroad and water supply infrastructure,
provided 100 body bags, six water pumps and 350-gallon water
storage containers, as well as sent medical teams out to
sample the water and monitor health indicators.

D) UN Country Team: WHO, UNDP, UNICEF and WFP are
coordinating closely to determine additional needs for
emergency and recovery responses. The UN has requested
disaster funds from their respective agency headquarters,
which will be channeled into a coordinated response effort,
addressing gaps not covered by other donors.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------




10. (SBU) Despite political undercurrents and the GODJ
desire to be seen as the only one leading and responding in
the disaster efforts, stronger government capacity to manage
disasters is needed since the country will always be
vulnerable to climatic shocks.



11. (SBU) Djibouti's greatest challenge continues to be
underlying poverty, which is compounded by a wide range of
structural constraints, particularly its limited natural and
human resources and arid climate. The economy remains
fragile and UNDP estimates that Djibouti's per capita GDP
has decreased in the past five years. Many of the overall
problems that Djibouti faces stem from chronic poverty and
vulnerability.



12. (SBU) DCHA/OFDA and Embassy Djibouti believe that the
USG response has reflected an appropriate level of emergency
support to the flooding disaster in Djibouti. As additional
needs emerge for mitigation, rehabilitation and recovery
efforts, assistance from other donors should be encouraged.
USAID and Embassy Djibouti will continue to closely monitor
the humanitarian situation. RAGSDALE