Stronger communities in the wake of flooding


March 22, 2012

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  • sr_wilfranzamora1.jpg
    Wilfran Zamora Nieto has become a leader in Manatí's emergency preparedness work since his farming fields remain underwater. Photo: Mercy Corps staff Photo: sr_wilfranzamora1.jpg
  • colombia-062011-blebehn-0090.jpg
    Flood-damaged homes in Manatí are still empty. Photo: Bryan Lebehn for Mercy Corps Photo: colombia-062011-blebehn-0090.jpg

Wilfran Zamora Nieto used to spend his days tending field of yucca, cotton, lettuce, radishes, cilantro and onions. But since extreme rains inundated his Colombian town in 2010, his land has been underwater, and he’s dependent on help from family in other parts of the country to support his wife, two children and grandson.

Wilfran is one of many residents in Manatí — and throughout the department of Atlantico on the Caribbean coast — who hasn’t been able to make a living since devastating floods washed through the community. Already working in Colombia, Mercy Corps not only provided emergency supplies to displaced families in the wake of the disaster, but with funding from Xylem Watermark, is empowering communities to better prepare for recurring floods and related disasters.

Local communities are attending training workshops and disaster preparedness seminars, establishing groups to lead during emergencies, formulating response plans, and learning how to become more involved in the urban planning (and rebuilding) process. We have also provided pumping equipment to remove stagnant water leftover from the floods and water purification units to ensure safe drinking supplies.

Since he has been unable to tend his crops, 38-year-old Wilfran has been leading the local soccer league and maintaining that field. As a community leader, he immediately got involved when Mercy Corps helped establish the local Community Disaster Prevention Committee, and is eager to learn more about assessing the risks in Manatí and taking the right steps to protect their lives: “Mercy Corps managed to engage the community in these efforts, and now we can look forward to a better future.”