Sunday, October 23, 2011

The relief efforts for the Deluge of 2011

As the floodwaters recede, this post focuses on the relief effort. The government is still warning, however, about the ongoing possibility of landslides from the super-saturated soils on mountainsides which it describes as a "moderate probability" in many areas throughout the country.

International aid is arriving. There has been a shipment of medicines from Venezuela.   Brazil delivered 1000 tons of rice and beans, and another $100,000 donation for the purchase of foodstuffs. Spain provided 109 tons of food. A shipment of aid for Salvadoran families valued at $181,000 from the US government arrived by plane today. The US Embassy lists aid worth almost $250,000 delivered previously on its website. Other countries providing assistance include Chile, Germany, Mexico and Taiwan. The Salvadoran government is receiving funds from a $50 million loan from the InterAmerican Development Bank and has designated $22 million of repair of bridges and roads washed away by the floods.

With elections upcoming, political parties have not resisted the temptation to politicize aid distribution. The mayor of San Salvador, Norman Quijano, has filled the Facebook page for the San Salvador municipal government with scenes of the mayor personally delivering bags of food or temporary housing materials and getting grateful hugs from his constituents. In fact, many of the bags the San Salvador government is using to deliver aid are emblazoned with Quijano's smiling face. The GANA web page is similarly filled with GANA party officials handing out bags of food or clothing.   In Santiago Texacuangos, the GANA party candidate came to bring aid to local shelters dressed in GANA orange, but was blocked by the local officers of the ARENA led municipal government.

With this influx of aid, the government is promising to make aid distribution transparent. Prior disaster relief efforts by the Salvadoran government have been met with charges of corruption and favoritism in aid distribution. Now the government has announced that it will make public all information about the distribution of aid and government contracting. A hot line has been set up for the reporting of corruption and irregularities in aid distribution.

But ordinary citizens have ignored political or religious differences and are simply pitching in to help their fellow Salvadorans impacted by the floods.   From private donations, the Salvadoran Foundation of Health (FUSAL) has made 172 shipments benefiting 23,579 families.  Salvadoran blogger Hunnapuh has written:

The population which has not been directly affected by the disaster and which has some means, looks not to party colors and has thrown itself into helping either the government, church, favorite service institution or private company, without distinguishing between tricolor, red, green, yellow, blue or orange or between Catholics and evangelicals.

Salvadorans in the US have set up a manner to donate to relief through text messages. Text the word SALVADOR to 20222 for a donation of $ 10. which will be directed to the Salvadoran American Humanitarian Foundation (SAHF) for disaster relief.

El Salvador is asking the US for relief from deportations. Mauricio Funes announced that he is requesting that the US suspend deporting Salvadorans and to continue in force Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which allows more than 200,000 Salvadorans to live in the US following the 2001 earthquakes. During the time period of the rains, the US deported 622 Salvadorans back into the country, and more than 18,000 in the previous 12 months.

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