6 Sep 2022

A new EAP for Floods associated with Tropical Cyclones will benefit up to 15,000 people in Guatemala

Floods associated with tropical cyclones are a recurring hazard in Guatemala, often causing widespread damage. For example, Hurricane Eta in 2020 brought heavy rains and winds that killed hundreds of people and destroyed many homes. To reduce the impacts of this hazard and protect vulnerable people, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) recently approved a new Early Action Protocol (EAP) for Floods associated with Tropical Cyclones.

The EAP covers five departments – Alta Verapaz, Izabal, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and Suchitepéquez – and has a budget of 478,796 Swiss francs (488,560 US dollars / 489,818 euros). Operational for five years (June 2022 to June 2027), it sets out the early actions that will be taken before a forecast flood occurs. The Guatemalan Red Cross will lead the implementation of these actions, which are expected to benefit 15,000 people each time the EAP is activated.

Four sectors are identified as priorities in the EAP: (1) the loss of livelihoods and wages, specifically those related to subsistence crops, trade and livestock, which are the main productive activities for many Guatemalans; (2) access to food and safe water, which are among the first distribution chains to be interrupted when a flood hits; (3) the loss of household items and personal belongings; and (4) an increased occurrence of acute diarrheal diseases caused by the consumption of poor-quality water.

Within these sectors, specific early actions include:

  • early warnings, such as messages on risk preparation and mitigation measures
  • multipurpose cash grants, which enable people to buy basic products ahead of a period of temporary relocation or shelter, and according to their own needs and preferences
  • water, sanitation and health activities, such as the maintenance of water equipment, the distribution of water treatment kits, and the production, storage and distribution of safe water.

These actions and priority sectors were identified through a feasibility study and the experience of the Guatemalan Red Cross and other institutions involved in responses to past flood events, including Hurricane Eta.

Funding for these early actions will come from the anticipatory action pillar of the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF). These will be released once the two trigger thresholds set out in the EAP are reached:

  1. The Guatemalan National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology or the National Hurricane Center issues a forecast with a 60 per cent (or above) probability that the path of a tropical storm (61km/hr or greater) will enter Guatemala’s cyclone warning zone, with a lead time of three to five days.
  2. The Global Flood Awareness System issues a forecast with a 50 per cent probability (or higher) of a flood with a return period of ten years in areas with a high risk of flooding, with a lead time of three days.

“During the challenging hurricane season, this EAP will strengthen the National Society's capacities and allow us to help vulnerable populations anticipate the impacts of extreme events, thus strengthening their resilience and livelihoods,” said Verónica Rivera, forecast-based financing coordinator at the Guatemalan Red Cross.