6 Jul 2022

Early Action Plans in Central America help more than 5,000 families to anticipate the impacts of tropical storms in Honduras and volcanic ashfall in Costa Rica

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has officially approved two new Early Action Plans (EAPs): the EAP for Floods associated with Tropical Storms in Honduras, and the EAP for Volcanic Ashfall in Costa Rica. As a result, 2,700 Honduran families and 2,400 Costa Rican families will be able to anticipate the impacts of these hazards.

EAPs are tools that guide the timely and effective implementation of early actions ahead of a hazard. They are based on specific weather, climate and other forecasts that predict extreme events which, if they do materialize and appropriate actions are not taken, have a high probability of causing humanitarian crises.

In Central America, National Red Cross Societies are leading the implementation of EAPs, with technical support from the German Red Cross, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and the IFRC. Each EAP is underpinned with the resources necessary to implement the agreed early actions (as set out in the EAP), thanks to the financial support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

These two EAPs in Central America represent a milestone in a highly exposed and vulnerable region. They expand traditional responses to include anticipatory action, thus helping to mitigate the impacts of different hazards that affect communities and livelihoods.

Acting ahead of floods in Honduras

According to the DesInventar disaster risk-reduction database in Honduras, floods are the main hydrometeorological hazard in the country, and these are normally associated with tropical storms. The new EAP from the Honduran Red Cross gives special emphasis on areas of historical impact, such as: streams of the Ulúa, Chamelecón, Patuca, Choluteca, Humuya, Cangrejal, Coco and Segovia rivers; coastal areas; the Sula Valley; and the Central District.

The EAP will be activated through forecasts provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Center and the Permanent Contingency Commission of Honduras (COPECO) through Centro de Estudios Atmosféricos, Oceanográficos y Sísmicos (CENAOS), which generates the forecasts for the Honduran territory. The EAP has a 5-day lead time.

The early actions planned in the document will reach up to 2,700 Honduran families through awareness campaigns, the distribution of multipurpose cash transfers to cover their needs before the impacts of the event, and water purification kits.

In light of the 2022 hurricane season, the Honduran Red Cross is developing different monitoring actions for the potential impacts in the country. Carlos Colindres, national risk management manager, shares details about these actions in this video.

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Early actions ahead of volcanic ashfall in Costa Rica

In the past 100 years, five volcanoes have been active in Costa Rica: Arenal, Irazú, Poás, Rincón de la Vieja and Turrialba. The associated dispersion and falling of volcanic ash have not only affected people’s health and livelihoods, but also required the deployment of the Costa Rican Red Cross for the resulting emergencies, as well as other first-response institutions.

The Costa Rican Red Cross’s new EAP will be activated through a forecast provided by the Costa Rican Volcanological and Seismological Observatory (OVSICORI), with a lead time of around 8 hours from the time of the eruption, with early actions implemented for 24 hours over the course of the event.

The early actions planned in the document will reach about 2,400 Costa Rican families living near the volcanoes where the ash deposit reaches ranges between 200-300 millimeters. Actions include awareness campaigns, the distribution of multipurpose cash transfers to cover different needs, health protection kits and water reservoirs, among others.