Ten days of continuous heavy rain caused the Orinoco River (the fourth longest river in South America) to overflow in August 2021. This caused severe flooding in communities along its banks, putting them at risk of losing water. life and home in what the authorities say. the worst flooding since 2018. This situation worsened when heavy rains resumed in the northern region of the isolated state of Bolivar from October 26 to November 3.
The most affected communities were in the municipality of Angostura del Orinoco in the state of Bolivar, including La Toma and Argelia Isturbiz. These areas are home to very vulnerable people, including the elderly, people with disabilities and female-headed households. Bolivar State is also home to several indigenous ethnic groups who have left their home communities to move closer to major cities, settling in areas such as La Toma in search of work. The institutional collapse that characterizes the country – alongside the economic crisis and hyperinflation – compounds the fact that there are few humanitarian and international NGOs active in the state (and none operating in the affected area) , leaving communities such as La Toma and Argelia Isturbiz with little prospect of help.
Both communities are close to the state capital Ciudad Bolivar (with La Toma located closer to the river) and are characterized by poor, unsanitary housing that offers little protection from the elements (some made of zinc, called “ranchos “), and by irregular electricity. and transportation services. Water for daily consumption comes from the river and therefore outbreaks of yellow fever and infectious diarrheal diseases are common.
The community is prone to robberies and assaults, although there is no strong presence of armed gangs. The Bolivar state’s response to issues of security, service delivery and disaster response is lacking, and the state itself has historically been neglected by the national government.
Older people and people with disabilities (PWD) are often overlooked and access to assistive devices is almost nil due to high costs. There is no government support for people with disabilities. Livelihoods in both communities are mainly fishing, street vending, pensions and informal work.
This rapid needs assessment (RNA) was carried out to provide an overview of the multi-sectoral needs of the inhabitants of La Toma and Argelia Isturbiz following the floods. The assessment was conducted in November 2021 by AC Kapé Kapé and Convite, AC, with technical support from HelpAge International. Its purpose is to enable agencies to identify urgent humanitarian needs and to review and adapt their programs in response to NRA findings.
90% of houses in the affected areas of La Toma and Argelia Isturbiz have been damaged or destroyed.
88% of respondents said they did not have access to enough food.
62% of respondents said they could not afford to buy food.
More than 30% of respondents said they did not have access to clean water for drinking or cooking.
81% of respondents said they (or another household member) had a chronic health condition.
80% of respondents said they (or another household member) had been sick since the flood.
76% of all respondents said they were “completely or somewhat dependent” on others to meet their basic needs. It was higher in the elderly (80%) than in adults under 50 (69%).
89% of respondents said that since the floods they feel worried or anxious about their current situation and 85% said they feel depressed. This was similar for older and younger respondents.