Date: Thu, 4 May 95 15:36:05 EDT
From: (Disaster Information Administrator)
Subject: Cape Verde: Volcano  IFRC-01

International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies

SITUATION REPORT No. 1                           2 May 1995

1.      SUMMARY

A two-man Federation team went on mission last week to the Cape
Verdean Island of Fogo, where life for an estimated 3,500 people
has been disrupted by an on-going volcanic eruption. Over 1,000
people are still displaced as lava continues to flow from the
crater though at a much reduced rate.

The Federation's Head of Regional Delegation (HoRD) in Abidjan
was accompanied by the Secretary General of the National Society
and a representative of the Africa Department. The mission
visited the abandoned villages, the camps for the displaced and
met with local Red Cross officials, representatives of other aid
agencies and volcanologists studying the situation. The
immediate needs continue to be the provision of food for the
displaced, whose numbers continue to fluctuate as earth tremors
prompt people who had returned home to seek refuge again in the
camps. There is also a need to provide more tents to alleviate

The HoRD and the National Society Secretary General met the Cape
Verdean Minister of Health on 25 April. The minister expressed
the government s appreciation of Red Cross efforts in support of
the displaced and underlined the need for continuing support. He
affirmed that the existing close co-operation and coordination
between government agencies and the Red Cross would continue.

A commission, comprising representatives of the Red Cross, the
Army and other agencies is considering the long-term prospects
for the villagers who have abandoned their homes. While the
violence of the eruption has reduced in scale, volcanologists
cannot predict with any certainty the volcano s future activity.


Lava continues to flow from the crater and has already engulfed
five square kilometres of cultivated land including five houses
and a winery co-operative which was a major source of income for
the displaced. While the flow continues, it is now contained
inside the existing banks of lava and, for the present, is not
claiming any new ground.

The two deserted villages of Bangaera and Portela in the Cha das
Caldeiras zone are actually located inside an ancient volcano
eight kilometres in diameter. The villages nestle close to the
western rim of this volcano's sheer, towering walls. They are
just a short distance from Mount Fogo, also located inside this
enormous crater, which last erupted in 1951. The latest centre
of volcanic activity opened up on the western flank of Mount
Fogo on the night of 2 April. In the initial panic about five
people were injured though none seriously.

The lava fountains erupting from the volcano in the first days
were 300 to 500 metres in height and they peppered the
surrounding countryside with boulders of rock and lava. The main
road leading to
blocked necessitating a detour by foot around the lava flow. No
means were available to the local authorities to divert the lava

Apart from the destruction to outlying buildings, the villages
themselves remain intact. People have returned to some houses in
the area but the two main villages remain largely deserted.
During the day there is regular foot traffic back and forth as
people take away items of use to the camps, including livestock.
By Cape Verdean standards, though severely impoverished the
villagers are well-equipped for survival. For a country which
suffers from chronic drought, sometimes recording no rainfall
for successive years, the more humid heights of Mount Fogo
provide the villagers with two harvests annually. It seems
likely that villagers will recommence cultivation there once the
eruption stops.

Volcanologists dispatched by the American and French governments
are presently compiling their reports on the situation and these
will be made available to the National Society and Federation
and will be taken into consideration for any future Red Cross

The volcanic eruption has drawn renewed attention to the fact
that the country has been plagued with drought over the last 20
years, necessitating water rationing of the greatest severity.
For instance, a family of six living in the volcano zone was
limited to a delivery by water truck of 100 litres per week.
Water collected by the people themselves in cisterns which dot
the arid landscape is usually reserved strictly for agricultural
purposes. This accounts for the large percentage of skin-related
diseases among the islanders, particularly scabies.


The Red Cross of Cape Verde (RCCV) has been active from the
beginning of the disaster. It has volunteers present in the four
camps which now contain 157 families in 100 overcrowded tents.
In addition, about 150 displaced people are living with friends
and relatives.

A special Commission, including the National Society, has been
established to co-ordinate the flow of aid to the island which
is 12 hours by boat from the main island of Santiago.

About five million escudos (CHF 80,000) has been received from
the Cape Verdean public through the National Society. So far
about two million escudos has been spent on the purchase and
delivery of food through EMPA (Ampresa Publica de
Abastecimento), which is the state agency responsible for
ensuring supplies for Cape Verde s nine inhabited islands.

The Red Cross branches on the islands of Santiago, Sao Vincente
and Sal have also dispatched over 400 parcels of food and
clothing for the relief of the displaced. All clothing needs
have been met, thanks mainly to donations received through the
Red Cross and Caritas.

Federation supplies of household utensils have also arrived in
Cape Verde for distribution, including 2,000 sets of cutlery,
forty 50-litre cooking pots, 200 25-litre buckets, 2,000 bowls
and 168 dozen cups. The items were purchased through the
Regional Delegation which sent a delegate to Dakar last week and
were packaged and transported with the assistance of the
Senegalese Red Cross.

Red Cross volunteers and first-aid workers assisted with the
installation of the displaced in the camps, together with a
contingent from the Cape Verdean Army, and continue to organise
food and non-food distributions with some 60 unarmed soldiers
based in the camps. The volunteers also act as liaison persons
for the displaced with the health service. All water and
sanitation needs are being met by the local authorities through
the installation of showers and latrines and regular deliveries
of water. The 100 tents erected for the displaced have been
donated through the UNDHA (64), the National Society (15) and
the remainder by the Army.

The camps are: Sao Felipe, population 534 including 313
children; Patim, population 88 (including 53 children); Acharda
Furna, population 156 (including 90 children); and Mosteiros,
population 90 (including 55 children). Together with the
displaced living in private homes, the total comes to 1,014.
These numbers increase when people who have returned to the area
take flight following particularly violent earth tremors.

While communal cooking still takes place in Mosteiros, in the
other camps families have the possibility to cook for
themselves. The mainstays of their diet are rice, maize and
manioc. Fish and meat are purchased locally from funds
channelled through the Red Cross.

The children have all re-commenced school in the camps. The
displaced in Mosteiros have only recently moved into tents,
previously they were occupying a nearby school during the Easter

In addition to the money raised locally, the National Society
received a donation of US$24,000 from USAID to meet emergency

Other donors have supplied miscellaneous items including
generators. Communications between the various camps and the
main island of Santiago is provided by the Army, which has
installed an HF radio network.

4.      CONTRIBUTIONS (please see annexe)


In the short term, the local Red Cross has identified the
principal need as the continuation of food supplies to the
displaced. Additionally, more tents are needed to reduce the
overcrowding which in some cases means that between two and
three families are sharing a tent. Mattresses are also required,
as are supplies of gas for cooking as local fuel resources are
scarce to non-existent.

A long-term plan of action will be developed within the
framework of what is decided by the Commission established to
consider the long-term situation of the displaced, principally
whether or not they should be re-housed elsewhere.

The National Society is 20 years old this year and is
well-established on all the islands with eleven local councils
employing 53 people. There are 1,200 registered volunteers
throughout the country. The local Red Cross branch on Fogo is
set to take part in a Rapid Intervention Force now being
considered for Fogo in the event of future eruptions or other
natural disasters such as landslides and droughts.

The Federation is also considering a detailed project proposal
from the National Society for the establishment of a disaster
preparedness stock to meet the needs of all nine inhabited
islands (total population 350,000).

Richard Hunlidi                                         Bekele Geleta
Programme Officer, Africa Department                    Director, Africa
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