The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.
Period covered by this update: 3 July to 30 September 2009.
Summary: CHF 295,187 was allocated from the International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 3 July 2009 to support the Czech Red Cross in delivering assistance to some 5,000 beneficiaries.
The Czech Red Cross local branches, of the registered 924 application forms for the financial contribution to clean private wells, have paid out 513. The Czech Red Cross remains confident that all will be settled by early November. Lessons learnt in this innovative operation are being gathered and analysed.
This operation is expected to be implemented in four months, and completed by early November 2009. In line with Federation reporting standards, the Final Report (narrative and financial) is due 90 days after the end of the operation (by February 2010).
The major donors to the DREF are the Irish, Italian, Netherlands and Norwegian governments and ECHO. Details of all donors can be found on http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/responding/drs/tools/dref/donors.asp
Three regions of the Czech Republic- Silesia, Olomouc and South Bohemia- were hit by heavy rainfall in late June, leading to severe flooding. Eastern parts of the country were the first to be affected on 26 June, with the rains moving to the south-western regions in the evening of 27 June.
The flooding was very different from that which the Czech Republic experienced in 2002. This time the rainfall was sudden and extremely heavy, quickly leading to flash floods, but after this intense downpour of around two hours the sun came out and shone brightly. The damage to people's homes and the water supply had, however, been done.
In total 13 people lost their lives. Across the three regions officials put the number of people whose houses were seriously damaged at around 14,450. These are distinctly rural areas of the country, where many senior citizens live for at least the majority of the year, and where there are also a number of weekend homes or cottages.
In the immediate aftermath of the flooding most people were able to stay with their neighbours or relatives, as they wished. Those without alternative temporary places to stay were accommodated in schools and gymnasiums. The south of Bohemia suffered further flooding in early July, complicating the initial clean-up efforts and action plans for recovery because it flooded already cleaned wells and also those which were not flooded in the first place. The hold-up meant that the water analysis could not be done. The hygienists do analyses also of well of citizens who do not need them as a source of drinking water.
Some three months after the floods, the situation is stable, with rivers back to their normal levels; often they are no more than streams that one could scarcely believe, as the director of one Red Cross branch exclaimed have "flooded with such raw ferocity."
Red Cross and Red Crescent action
The Red Cross branches in the affected areas and the headquarters monitored reports coming from the metrological centre, updated every 30 minutes. As the rains descended quickly, there was no advance warning to prepare. Local branches started working immediately addressing the needs of people for drinking water, and occasionally with accommodation, but often not required because people prefer living with friends or relatives.
The main crisis emergency unit of the Czech Red Cross immediately after the first flooding began providing first aid, advice and monitoring the relief operations. Approximately 500 volunteers and staff were involved.
One of the priorities identified early on, in consultation with the authorities and people affected was to clean the wells used by the households as the only source of drinking water. The wells had been flooded and contaminated, limiting the access and availability to potable water. The Czech Red Cross had had limited experience with cash distributions, and called upon support from the International Federation to assist them draw up a plan of action and the financial means to clean 1,000 wells in the most affected areas, thereby returning the drinking water supply to an estimated 5,000 people.