This mission report describes the Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA) conducted by an expert deployed by the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU) through a United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination team (UNDAC) in Guatemala following Hurricane Stan.
In October 2005, Hurricane Stan passed over the southern coast and western highlands of Guatemala. Due to torrential rains, flooding and mudslides ensued in many parts of the country, causing loss of life and injury. The JEU ensured the inclusion of a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC)-trained environmental expert from Brazil in the UNDAC team deployed. The expert conducted his work through meetings with various government ministries and field assessment trips. The JEU released a Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA) report for Guatemala that identified possible risks such as the pollution of surface water, animal carcasses, erosion, hazardous materials, shelter and waste management.
Recommendations included the thorough testing of groundwater supplies in affected areas, and an assessment for erosion, and areas where significant soil movement is a risk, to discover any ‘hotspots’ likely to threaten human life or livelihoods. A need was identified to monitor and evaluate the temporary camps of the displaced population and to develop plans to ensure adequate sanitation and waste management. This situation was “the toughest logistical challenge the aid community has faced to date” according to Jan Egeland, then United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Consult the mission report here.