By Stephen Ryan, IFRC
Sudden and unexpected rains hit south and eastern parts of Egypt at the beginning of November, killing 29 people and injuring at least 73 more. Volunteer teams of Egyptian Red Crescent Society have been among the few aid organisations providing assistance to people whose homes have been caught in the deluge. Food and non-food relief items, and psychosocial support, particularly to children, have been top priorities for the society, which began its response immediately after the onset of the disaster.
The sudden rise in waters has severely affected lives and livelihoods of people living in low-lying areas across Red Sea governorates, with, Assuit, Qena, Sohag and South Sinai governorates also affected.
The Red Crescent activated its emergency response systems as soon as the crisis hit, dispatching specialised teams to the affected areas. Professor Moamena Kamel, Secretary General of Egyptian Red Crescent Society stated that development of rapid response teams in recent months have made a significant difference in their ability to respond effectively.
“We have invested heavily in developing skills among our emergency action teams, and putting supporting systems in place to streamline our response. When our volunteers arrive to crises such as this, they know what to do and provide immediate and appropriate assistance to those who need it most,” she explained.
The Red Crescent has provided mattresses, blankets and other bedding, as well as flashlights and candles, to those who had lost these essential items in the rising floodwaters. Teams also coordinated emergency shelter arrangements and provided medical assistance including first aid and psychosocial support to people in need. At least 6,500 families – some 30,000 people – were assisted by Egyptian Red Crescent Society in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
“This is a collective response by Egyptian Red Crescent Society. Overall, close to 200 staff and volunteers are involved in the response,” explains Hicham Samy, relief coordinator working in Ras Gharib Red Sea governorate
Our response teams coordinate action together with local Red Crescent volunteers, and use social media to share rapid updates of action and newly identified needs,” he added.
Egyptian Red Crescent Society is primarily responding to this crisis using relief items that it has prepositioned for sudden onset crises such as this one. Local NGOs have also provided relief items that are being distributed by Red Crescent teams. With expected international support, the Red Crescent plans to help the worst affected families recover by providing basic household and kitchen items.
The IFRC is supporting Egyptian Red Crescent Society emergency response to these floods through the allocation of 331,252 Swiss francs for its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). You can learn more about the DREF support mechanism here.