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Responding to Colombia's 'worst natural disaster'

Colombia, April 26, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    REUTERS/John Bonilla, courtesy Trust.org   </span>
    A Colombian soldier carries a mattress on a flooded street in the municipality of La Virginia after heavy rains in Pereira province. Downpours due to La Nina have rocked the Andean nation since last year, displacing 2.8 million people and killing almost 400. Photo: REUTERS/John Bonilla, courtesy Trust.org

Mercy Corps is responding to massive flooding in Colombia that the country's president called "the worst natural disaster that we can remember."

In a nationwide address last night, President Juan Manuel Santos said three million Colombians have been affected by intense La Niña rains. "It's as if our entire territory has been affected by a hurricane that came in halfway through last year and hasn't wanted to leave."

Mercy Corps is helping families in two nothern regions cope with the devastating floods:

  • In Choco, near the Panamanian border, we're helping 900 families with emergency assistance that includes food, hygiene kits, kitchen supplies and bedding.
  • In Atlantico, near the Caribbean coastline, we're providing psychosocial support in two shelters housing displaced families, and distributing emergency assistance to another 400 families.

President Santos said the rains are going to continue to affect Colombia for at least another two months.

We continue to work alongside our local partners in the worst-affected regions to expand our response.

We're also working alongside government officials to lessen the damage caused by future floods. Although this year is far worse than usual, winter flooding causes damages to homes and land each year. Mercy Corps, with funding from ITT Watermark, is helping regional disaster prevention authorities lessen the impact on vulnerable communities using mobile technologies and georeferencing tools.

Visit our Colombia page for the latest on our response.