ACT Alliance Rapid Response Fund Payment: Volcano eruption in the eastern side of El Salvador

by Elisabeth Gouel | | ACT Alliance - Switzerland
Friday, 3 January 2014 14:27 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Rapid Response Fund Payment Request No. 01/2014

Funds Sent To: Salvadorian Lutheran Synod
Amount Sent: US$59,200

Date: 2 January 2014

Details of Response

Emergency: Volcano eruption in the eastern side of El Salvador

Date of Emergency: 29 December 2013

ACT Requesting Member: Salvadorian Lutheran Synod



The Chaparratique volcano, in the eastern side of the country, erupted on December 29, emitted searing clouds of volcanic ash as high as 5km covering four municipalities and affecting eight communities that are facing landslides risk since the beginning of the rain season towards the end of 2013. The ashes are affecting people’s health, crops, and wells. About 2,400 inhabitants are in formal shelters and unknown numbers of people are hosted by neighbors and relatives. In the meantime there is still volcanic activity and the government is evacuating the communities within a five kilometer radius of the slopes of the volcano, as experts warn about the possibility of another eruption, given that the volcano still has more energy to release.

The national system of civil protection reported that the movement of ash has reached 10 of the 14 districts of the country. Up to date no death has been reported, but health problems from inhaling ash, especially in children and the elderly.

The most affected communities are the municipalities of Chinameca, San Jorge, San Rafael Oriente and El Transito. Especially harmful are the emission of gases and ash fall which severely damage health, and pollute water sources such as wells among others.  About 80% of the population has been evacuated and is accommodated in the 15 official shelters or with relatives.  Nervous breakdowns and stress are common symptoms among the affected population. Some of the shelters do not meet minimum conditions for accommodation. There are no blankets, mattresses, food, water and psychosocial assistance.

Up to three centimeters of volcanic ash has been recorded in the affected area, damaging fields of corn and beans, sesame, jicama (tuberous root) and onion harvests, severely affecting the food security of the population in this region. Some roofs of houses have also been affected. There is still no specific data from the damage assessments to determine the extent of the impact on agricultural production and infrastructure.


On 29th of December, few hours after the first eruption, staff of the ACT member, Salvadorian Lutheran Synod, went on a field visit to the affected zone, visiting official and non-official shelters, to have firsthand information on the damage and needs of those affected.  

Members of the Forum have established coordination with the National Shelter Commission, the local health system, the humanitarian network of El Salvador, and the national office for civil protection at central and district levels in order to exchange information and develop a sound response strategy.

On 30th of December, the Salvadorian Lutheran Synod, in coordination with community and church leaders distributed food to the self-evacuated people in shelters who have not yet received official aid.

The analysis of the information gathered and meetings with different governmental and civil society organizations identified the following needs as priority:
•    The need for private shelters and hygiene kits, mattresses and blankets.
•    The evacuated people in the shelters show symptoms of stress, worry and trauma, which points to psychosocial support as an outright priority. This sector remains uncovered by the national response system.
•    The loss of agricultural produce to ash rains raises the need for food assistance beyond the crisis period.
•    Need for a comprehensive and prompt resettlement plan. Evacuated people will return to their houses as soon as the volcano activity permits.


Lifesaving support to approximately 523 families, 2 614 individuals affected by the eruption of Chaparrastique volcano to lead lives with dignity and with conditions for early recovery.

Provide food assistance to 365 families.
Provide hygiene assistance to 245 families.
Provide shelter support with 240 mattresses and 210 blankets.
Provide psychosocial support to 523 families.

The ACT forum will assist 523 most affected families of the municipalities of Chinameca, San Jorge and San Rafael Oriente. The assistance will be targeted to specific and differentiated needs.
•    365 food security kits will be provided through the distribution of family food packages for one month according to Sphere Standards. 245 hygiene kits consisting of soap, dental paste and toothbrush, detergent, sanitary towels and water storage containers will be distributed.
•    240 mattresses and 210 blankets will be delivered to those evacuated with no access to official aid.
•    Psychosocial support will be provided by trained staff of the local ACT Forum,   with the aim to support the community and the families to deal with situations of stress and anxiety and to provide support to the mental and emotional wellbeing.  

The activities will be developed in coordination with the municipal and community civil protection commissions, in order to ensure a proper and transparent humanitarian response. Two local NGO’s, Oikos and CREDHO, related to ACT forum members will support this intervention through:

•    Purchase of materials for distribution, according to Sphere and HAP standards.
•    Coordination for hygiene kits distribution, mattresses and blankets in the shelters.
•    Organization  and training on Community Based Psychosocial Assistance.
•    Coordinating the delivery of food for humanitarian assistance.
•    Coordination with the local government, NGOs, community leaders for the implementation of activities, communication and access to information.
•     Writing reports of the project.

The ACT Forum in coordination with the local civil protection unit and the national commission of shelters, have selected these beneficiaries who are at high risk.  Specific populations in the communities are selected in coordination with the community committees and local leaders.

The purchase, transport and distribution logistics will be coordinated and carried out by the Salvadorian Lutheran Synod and the community committees. A written memorandum of understanding will be signed with Oikos and CREDHO for their assistance and support to project implementation. The local civil protection unit will support by providing updated information regarding communities assisted and also in security when needed.

The El Salvador ACT Forum is coordinating with the local civil protection unit and the national commission of shelters, for the selection of beneficiaries and also for logistical arrangements and information. Coordination with NGOs in the region and community organizations has been established.

All documents generated from the project, such as reports, communication with authorities and media, delivery certificates, invitations, reports, will have ACT Alliance logos including a listing of full members of the alliance in the country.

ACT members have signed the ACT Code of Conduct, and have received trainings on the Sphere Standards. The whole intervention will follow the related standards on food aid, water and hygiene. HAP standards will be respected throughout the implementation.

The project activities are planned for three months, from the 29th of December, 2013 to the 31st of March, 2014.

Two local technicians will be in charge of implementation of the activities with the support of the Church headquarters in San Salvador. Purchases and administration will be under the Salvadoran Lutheran Synod system which is in compliance with international standards and align with HAP standards.

Monitoring and evaluation will be carried out by the El Salvador Forum Coordinator in coordination with the local emergency committees functioning within the affected areas. Preparation of reports will be the responsibility of the Lutheran Synod of El Salvador, with accountability reports to beneficiaries and ACT Alliance.

For the full document and budget, please click here.