Afghanistan: ACT mobilises response to earthquake

Monday, April 20, 2009

591-DSC01400.jpgOn April 17, 2009 at 02:07 local time, an earthquake of magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale, and 5.7 km depth, occurred in Nangarhar Province in the Eastern Region of Afghanistan. Two hours later, a second earthquake of magnitude 5.1 and 3.2 km depth occurred in the same area. The epicentre of both earthquakes was near Sherzad (est. pop. 76,500) and Hesarak (est. pop. 28,000) districts, which are located in the Hindu Kush mountain range.

ACT member Church World Service (CWS), working in the province since 1997, has staff on the ground who today report that their rapid assessment of the situation in the most severely affected villages in Sherzad district reveals urgent needs including shelter, food, non-food relief items and health services. CWS reports that at least 40 people have been reported killed and 75 people injured. Eleven villages in the three districts of Agam, Hesarak and Sherzad have been affected by the earthquake, with the areas of Kuchi Khel and Tangai in Sherzad district being the worst hit.   Out of Sherzad District’s population of 76,553 people, 20,000 are reported as affected by the earthquake. This comprises 9,800 males and 10,200 females out of which 4,000 are under five years old, 5,400 are between 6-17 years, 5,000 are between 18-65 years and 5,600 are over 65 years old. (EPI Eastern Region, Regional Health Directorate).

According to the Afghanistan Public Health Directorate (PHD), 800 houses have been damaged, of which 290 were completely destroyed, leaving 800 families (5,600 individuals) without safe shelter. CWS reports that continuous rainfall in the earthquake areas during the last few days compounds the situation for people made homeless and forced to live out in the open without basic shelter. Those with partially damaged houses are also scared to live inside their houses due to the rain.  The Agriculture Department has also reported that more than 600 livestock have been lost in this earthquake (UNOCHA). Nangarhar province of Afghanistan has been suffering from drought, rising food prices, poor health and sanitation conditions, as well as insecurity caused by continuous conflicts due to which the livelihoods of the local population have severely been affected. CWS has had a health program in the area for 10 years and notes that these challenges contribute to weakening local people’s resilience for coping with this emergency.

National and International Response to Date

592-DSC01467.jpgThe following assistance by other Organizations/Departments has been provided to the victims of the earthquake, as reported by CWS:

  • Head of Public Health Department reports that they have dispatched 100 medical kits and some tents and blankets.
  • International Committee of the Red Cross reports that the Afghanistan Red Cross Society has dispatched 100 tents, 100 tarpaulins, 400 blankets, 200 jerry cans, and 100 kitchen kits.
  • The government disaster taskforce on site have called for assistance from ISAF's Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) who state they have 600 relief kits for distribution. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has requested that these be given to the government for distribution.  Nangarhar PRT has also sent a five-ton truck with relief supplies such as blankets, tents, food and water to the Sherzad District April 17, 2009 (Reliefweb)
  • Afghanistan's National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) has said the  government  will compensate families approximately US$600 for every death and about $200 for every house damaged in the quake

Assistance currently being planned by CWS response complements assistance being provided by other organizations working as part of the NGO coordinating umbrella, ACBAR (Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief), as well as with fellow Afghanistan ACT Forum members, UN and government authorities.

ACT Response
In coordination with fellow ACT Forum members and other organizations and government authorities, including through the NGO umbrella organization ACBAR (Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief) and the Provincial National Disaster Management Authority, CWS has today submitted a request for approximately US $54,500 from the ACT Rapid Response Fund to support a two month response supporting 300 of the most vulnerable earthquake-affected families with food packages, kitchen sets, tarpaulins and blankets, as well as to provide an emergency medical service in Sherzad district.