Kingston, Jamaica, April 7, 2022 – On April 9, 2021, the explosive eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in the Caribbean, caused more than 13,000 people who live in the nearby red and orange zones to be evacuated. One year later, the impact of the disaster is still evident, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is focusing its efforts on shelter and socio-economic recovery, as the income of families has been affected by the eruption and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past year, the Red Cross has supported over 5,000 people with water, emergency relief supplies, hygiene and cleaning items, dignified housing solutions, risk communication and community engagement, as well as psychosocial and livelihood support.
Bernard Morgan, President of the SVG Red Cross, said:
“The Red Cross, along with our partners, has provided relief, psychosocial support, and access to basic services, however the work is still not done. We continue to focus our efforts on helping people recover, especially those who have lost their jobs or savings, and whose homes were severely damaged. The physical effects of the volcano may not be as visible now, but people are still dealing with the social, economic, and psychological effects of the eruption, especially the estimated 900 people who are still unable to move back to their homes.”
The Red Cross provided multipurpose grants to support approximately 1000 persons as well as supermarket vouchers for over 800 persons. In addition, over 300 small enterprises have received grants to restart farming, fishing and businesses that were interrupted by the eruption.
The Red Cross has supported over 210 highly vulnerable persons (74 families) to leave collective centres and move into dignified shelter conditions through the provision of rental grants for a period of between 1-6 months depending on needs, with over 400 monthly grants distributed since September 2021.
James Bellamy, IFRC Deputy Operations Manager in the Americas, said:b“One year later, some people still don’t have their homes or usual means of income, as more than 100 homes continue to remain uninhabitable due to damage and increased risks from the eruption. The priority now for the Red Cross is to help communities strengthen and restore their livelihoods and living conditions. We will continue to assist families through our livelihood program, offer training opportunities and work with disadvantaged households to find long-term shelter solutions through both cash and in-kind assistance.”
Children have been at the core of the humanitarian response, with over 500 receiving psychosocial support kits including learning and recreational items. The IFRC collaborated with partners, like UNICEF and the Gender Affairs Unit, to ensure child-friendly spaces in collective centres.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and dengue outbreak, preventing the spread of the virus and dengue infections was a major part of the response. The Red Cross provided information about staying safe and healthy and supplied family Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, as well as 400 hand sanitizer wall-mounted units to the Ministry of Education for schools reopening for face-to-face learning. The Red Cross also supported cleanup efforts following the eruption and distributed household cleaning kits to over 3300 families and hygiene kits and COVID-19 kits to over 2300 families.
In April 2021, the IFRC launched an appeal for 2,000,000 CHF to assist over 5000 people in affected communities with shelter, health, clean water and livelihood support.