14 Jun 2018

ASB helping here and now: Volcano de Fuego eruption in Guatemala

The Volcano de Fuego located southwest of Guatemala City erupted on Sunday, June 3. The lava opened a path of destruction on the hillsides. Since then, the volcano has been repeatedly throwing huge pillars of ash and large amounts of pyroclastic material.

After the beginning of heavy rains in the following days, there was also the risk of lahars and landslides. A total of 1,713,566 people were affected by the consequences of the eruption, according to CONRED (The Civil Protection System of Guatemala). As authorities reported on June 7, at least 99 people died in the volcanic eruption, another 58 were injured and at least 197 are missing. However, much higher numbers are expected, but official figures are not available yet.

The total amount of funding received by the consortium Action Against Hunger - ASB Germany for this first phase of support is USD 175,000.

According to own data, until now CONRED has evacuated 12.277 people. Of these there are currently 4.016 people in 21 shelters. The Volcano de Fuego is one of three active volcanoes in this Central American country. Since 2002, the mountain of approximately 3.700 meters shows an increase in activity.

The 3,763 m high Fuego Volcano, located 35 km southwest of the capital, has been active for months. The violent eruption of the volcano on June 3 has caused pyroclastic flows (a combination of toxic gases, high temperature air and solid materials expelled by the volcano), which have buried entire communities.

The ASB Regional Office for Latin America went straight to the affected area immediately after the disaster occurred, to evaluate and execute a Assessment of Needs, discovering that people living in poverty in the department of Escuintla, are highly vulnerable and have been directly affected by the eruption of the volcano and experience a variety of necessities including: education, food security, health, protection, shelter and WASH-wise, according to the Needs-Assessment by ASB and Action against Hunger (ACF). Therefore, ASB together with ACF is working on the mitigation of the urgent needs of highly vulnerable and poor people in the department of Escuintla, which are severely and directly affected by the eruption of the Volcán de Fuego through (inclusive) access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation.

To counteract these identified needs, the consortium focused on the WASH needs of the population by repairing the water systems in shelters and complementing water supply with deficiencies, also the installation of 30 showers, 6 washing areas (washing machines and dryers) and mobile toilets in the shelters. The consortium distributed 310 hygiene kits at a family level and conducted hygiene training courses to prevent the spread of diseases.To this day, both organizations keep providing aid through training of emergency shelter coordinators, volunteers and other actors for the inclusion of people with disabilities and older adults in shelters and evacuation centers, and adapting spaces in shelters for people with disabilities and through the restitution of lost equipment of people with disabilities (wheelchairs, walking aids, etc.).

Photos courtesy of CONRED