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Start Fund awarded responses: March

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From flooding in Malawi and Afghanistan to a fire outbreak in Sierra Leone, the month of March saw five alerts activated and awarded funding.

ALERT 307: Fire outbreak in Sierra Leone

In the night of 4th March, a fire broke out in Kroo Bay, Central Freetown due to a mosquito quell catching alight. Approximately 120 structures were completely burnt down, leaving an estimated 1,161 people homeless.

  • The community is densely-packed, which had caused issues in emergency response.
  • All affected people had need of food support as well as Non-Food Items to replace household belongings; such as hygiene items, cooking utensils, mattresses, and schooling materials.

The Start Fund was alerted to this crisis on 8th March by Trócaire, Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, CAFOD, Catholic Relief Services, GOAL, Welthungerhilfe, World Vision, and Concern Worldwide. Members agreed to activate the alert the following day, extending potential remit to a similar situation in a neighbouring community. Within 72 hours, funding was awarded to Concern Worldwide in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services in order to focus on the prioritised need of shelter, distributing shelter kits to all affected households.

This local and underfunded crisis was quickly managed, permitting members with local experience to fill necessary gaps in the community.

ALERT 308: Anticipation of Cholera in Somalia

The underperformance of 2018 ‘Deyr’ rains and the continued reduction in water levels in Dawa and Juba rivers means lack of safe water is the biggest issue affecting communities living in Gedo region. The drought is naturally known to trigger increases in Acute Watery Diarrhoea and Cholera, specifically peaking in April; the influx of new IDPs into the area puts further strain on WaSH and Sanitation resources.

A joint alert was raised to the Start Fund from ActionAid, Relief International, Save the Children, and World Vision on 12th March.

Relief International and Trócaire were awarded funds from the Start Fund on the 15th March in order to map high-risk areas, provide access to safe water, and issue resources and awareness-raising to high-risk communities in order to minimize the possibility of Cholera outbreak.

ALERT 309:Displacement due to conflict in Ethiopia

Clashes in the Central Gondar and West Gondar zones of the Amhara Region have been escalating since November 2018, displacing close to 60,000 people. The high number of IDPs in Amhara Region, as well as the destruction of homes, has left more than 27,000 people living in sub-standard sites, in need of protection, security, and assistance.

On 11th March, Plan International, Humanity Inclusion, Welthungerhilfe, GOAL, and HelpAge International alerted Start Fund to this situation; members agreed to activate the alert the following day, ensuring that funds were allocated in areas not covered by the government response.

GOAL, Plan International, and World Vision were awarded funds within 72 hours of the alert being raised in order to distribute shelter materials, hygiene kits, and WASH resources to vulnerable populations.

ALERT 310: Flooding in Malawi

Following heavy rains from 5th – 8th March, more than 14 districts of Malawi were impacted with flooding. This displaced more than 31,700 people as of the time of alerting, with approximately 468, 650 people impacted and at least 30 dead. This caused priority needs to be shelter, WASH, food and health assistance.

  • These floods were immediately followed by more heavy rainfall as a result of Cyclone Idai, further reducing capacity of vulnerable populations and exacerbating the situation.
  • Due to the extreme weather, many roads and points of access were made unpassable, limiting swift response to these communities.

HelpAge International alerted the Start Fund on the 11th March, and members unanimously agreed to activate the Start Fund due to the need for urgent and immediate action. Funding was awarded to Trócaire (working with Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children) and HelpAge (alongside Islamic Relief, GOAL, and local partner MANEPO) in order to provide vital sanitation and health resources as well as to support camp set-up and management. Projects also distributed food and non-food items to people in areas with limited access, as well as supporting emergency response coordination efforts.

ALERT 311: Flooding in Afghanistan

As a result of long-term drought, heavy rains and flooding severely affected thousands of people across nine provinces. Approximately 8,670 structures were damaged or destroyed, as well as agricultural land and water and sanitation facilities, with an approximate 36,000 people impacted, and more than 70 people killed.

  • This occurring in an already-existing situation of food insecurity has caused immediate needs to include food, emergency shelter, emergency sanitation equipment, appropriate clothing, and other non-food items.
  • Ongoing severe weather, as well as general insecurity in the area remains high, which may have restricted operations.

The Start Fund was alerted to this crisis on 12th March by ActionAid, Relief International, Save the Children, and World Vision with a focus on flood-response. Members agreed to activate the alert, with funding released within 72 hours to Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, and World Vision in order to implement WASH, shelter, and protection help for displaced and vulnerable populations.

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  • by Lucretia Puentes