In April, Ecuador was struck by a 7.8 earthquake that left a trail of loss and ruin along its usually placid Pacific Ocean coast. More than 500 people were killed, thousands made homeless and, according to UNESCO reports, damage to schools has impacted over 120,000 children.
The Governor of Rotary District 4400, Manuel Nieto sought assistance from DAI and at a meeting with him at the RI Convention in Seoul, plans were made to despatch a Disaster Aid Response Team (DARTs) to investigate and determine what the needs of the survivors were and if our organisation could help. Volunteer DARTs Craig Roberts and Steve Lister from Disaster Aid UK & Ireland recently returned safely with a comprehensive report AND this recommendation: “That DAI directs its aid efforts towards providing new housing for the community of Three Crosses in Bahía de Caráquez in Rotary D4400”.
The DAI Board approved that recommendation and launched an appeal to raise funds to build new homes. DAA is asking for your support in providing vital humanitarian assistance in that country. Rotary in Ecuador wants this to be a model village that showcases what Rotary and Rotarians can do.
Proposed new (emergency) housing
By way of background, the DARTs noted that aid efforts in Ecuador are somewhat hampered by government restrictions. For instance:
- If a family accepts aid from an outside source they make themselves ineligible to receive government aid;
- Government aid is only available to those who own their own land and it has been deemed safe by the government to rebuild on that land, and,
- Government aid, if available, can only be used to build concrete houses (those structures are the ones that fell during the earthquake!)
Type of housing, and its source
DAI has learned from its DARTs that the people affected by the earthquake (48% of the population live below the poverty line of US$2 per day) want wood and bamboo houses as they survive better by swaying when the earth moves. The proposed housing is available in kit form from a supplier within Ecuador. The design is tried and tested and allows families to enclose the lower level, if required, to provide additional storage or accommodation.
How will this all come together?
- The Three Crosses community will be relocated to nearby Acuarela. It has been confirmed that the land is suitable for building, and the community will have title.
- Disaster Aid International’s partners in this project will be Rotary District 4400, the Catholic Church Bahía de Caráquez, and the community of Three Crosses itself who will clear the land and prepare it for the houses.
- Technically, the proposed houses are known as Emergency Houses with a 10-year life expectancy. However, with proper care and repair they can last much longer.
The success of this appeal will determine if, together, we can also provide utilities (water and electricity), a toilet and shower block, and/or water filters.
Please help if you can – thank you