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Seychelles Floods Situation Report No.3

Countries
Seychelles
Sources
UN DHA
Publication date

DHAGVA - 97/0482
1. This report has been prepared following a United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) team mission ending on 3 September 1997.

BACKGROUND

2. Seychelles is an island republic in the western Indian Ocean, consisting of 115 islands, of which the main group is situated between 4-5 degrees South and 55-56 degrees East. The total population is some 75,000. The capital, Victoria, is located on the main island of Mahe.

3. Located close to the equator, the main islands rarely experience natural disasters. Seychelles, with little experience in disasters, has not developed a comprehensive disaster management structure, legislation or plan. In general, welfare responses are the responsibility of the Presidents Office.

SITUATION

4. In the middle of the dry season, a rain depression became stationary onto the main island group. From 13 to 17 August 1997, 560 mm of rain fell at Mahe Airport, 667 mm a few kilometres away, 458 mm on Praslin and 471 mm on La Digue.

DISASTER IMPACT

DAMAGE

5. Housing

5.1 Over the past 6 years, the Government has pursued a policy of promoting housing development. The recent disaster has effectively set this ambitious programme back 2-3 years.

5.2 A total of 247 homes are reported as affected by the disaster, with 225 damaged and 22 completely destroyed. The number of destroyed houses will probably increase as the full effects of damage are quantified. Retaining walls that protect houses from landslides have also been severely damaged.

5.3 Most of the affected houses in Seychelles are not insured and home owners are now calling on the Government for financial assistance. Unbudgeted for the size of this calamity, the Government cannot cope with the extent of the repairs and reconstruction requirements, let alone financing further prevention measures.

6. Utilities

6.1 Electric Power -- Power lines were brought down by landslides and sub-stations were flooded. The primary distribution system was restored by 19 August. Secondary systems took longer to repair but are now restored. The repair task has almost exhausted maintenance stores.

6.2 Communications -- Telephone lines are underground, and there were no reports of disruptions.

6.3 Water -- 80 percent of the people on the main islands have access to piped treated water. Many supply pipes were broken by landslides and floods. Temporary repairs enabled all house supplies to be restored. At least one reservoir has been undermined and needs to be demolished and rebuilt. Further stabilisation work will be needed on another site.

7. Roads -- The last major road was expected to be cleared of landslide damage by 4 September, while secondary roads will take longer to clear. Many roads on coastal plains were damaged by flooding, and repairs to these roads are expected to take until about 7 September. A total of 44 major road damage sites have been identified as requiring significant response.

8. Airports -- The whole airfield was flooded, causing the new surfaces to crack and the asphalt to lift from the sub-base.

9. Agriculture -- All of the 6,000 hectares of agricultural land was affected by the disaster, and 600 hectares, mostly intensive vegetable farming areas in lowland areas, were severely affected. Many flooded farms have lost all their crops, and many hill farms not only lost crops but also infrastructure. It is estimated that the disaster has put back the target for self-sufficiency by at least a year.

10. Health -- The Ministry of Health has been conducting a vector control campaign (mosquitoes and rodent) and the monitoring and testing of water quality. Only back-pack fogging equipment is available for vector control, membrane filters for water testing are being used up rapidly and diagnostic test equipment reserves are also low. Most of the islands use septic tank systems and during the floods many of these systems overflowed.

CASUALTIES

11. Because most of the landslides and flooding occurred during the day, there were very few casualties, totalling 1 death, 4 missing and 2 injured.

EMERGENCY RELIEF REQUIREMENTS

12. Many of emergency relief requirements have been met by the Government, though at significant cost to its budget. Assistance (food supplies, sleeping facilities, clothing, and damaged property), worth at SR 93,588 (USD 18,700), was given so far to 64 persons/families sheltered in temporary accommodation (12 by landslides, 50 by floods, and 2 by both). The Government estimates that international assistance for an additional SR 500,000 (USD 100,000) will be required for the further provision of similar kind of aid.

RECOVERY REQUIREMENTS

13. Most of the help needed now concerns requirements for recovery and mitigation and disaster preparedness measures (as listed below), for which the Government requests international assistance.

Housing -- SR 8.5 million (USD 1,7 million)
Utilities -- SR 8.425 million, including 900 tonnes cement (USD 1,7 million)
Roads -- SR 5.425 million, including 400 tonnes cement (USD 1,1 million)
Airports -- SR 3 million including 500 tonnes cement (USD 600,000)
Agriculture -- USD890,000 (including USD 150,000 for fertilisers, USD 440,000 pesticides, USD 200,000 seeds, and USD100,000 repairing to irrigation and structural damage)
Health -- USD 300,000
Disaster Management -- USD 500,000

14. A detailed list of needs is available from DHA-Geneva at address below, and the full final report from the UNDAC team sent to the Seychelles is being sent to donor countries.

CONCLUSION

15. Seychelles is a small island developing country with limited resources, with no experience of disasters and consequently no comprehensive disaster management system or plan. The events caused serious disruption and their effects will last for a significant period, if reconstruction and mitigation measures are not implemented - with international help - before the next wet season starting in October or November.

CONTRIBUTIONS

16. DHA-Geneva is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions, to be used in the immediate relief phase, in coordination and consultation with the relevant organisations of the United Nations system. DHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilisation of the funds contributed.

17. Donors wishing to channel their contributions through DHA can transfer funds to DHA account No. CO - 590.160.1 at the Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH - 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference Seychelles Floods, DHA - Geneva.

18. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform DHA - Geneva, as indicated below, of relief missions, pledges or contributions and their corresponding values by item.

Telephone number: + 41 22 1234
In case of emergency only: + 41 22 917 2010
Desk Officers: Mr. Guillaume de Montravel, direct tel: + 41 22 917 1481, Ms. Kayo Gotoh, direct tel: +41-22-917-1258
Contact for medias: Ms M. Moulin-Acevedo, direct tel: + 41 22 917 2856
Telex 41 42 42 dha ch
Fax: + 41 22 917 0023
E-mail: info@dha.unicc.org