Oxfam International teams return from Peru earthquake assessment : Rural areas in desperate need of aid

Published: 18 August 2007

LIMA, 18 August – Upon the completion of its humanitarian needs assessment in southern Peru, international aid agency Oxfam has today reported that thousands of people living in rural areas urgently need all forms of aid.

Over the course of the next several days, Oxfam will provide immediate assistance, including shelter, clean water and sanitation services, to some 2,000 families in some of the remotest areas hit by the earthquake.

"The areas outside of Pisco have also been devastated," said Sergio Alvarez, Humanitarian Lead for Oxfam International in Peru.  "The urban areas are being better attended but the rural areas and the city's outskirts have received very little attention so far."

On Friday, the Oxfam team also traveled to rural areas close to Ica, visiting seven communities.

"Our assessment team went as far as they could on the highway, until we found that it was blocked by part of a hill that had fallen onto the road. We saw many people walking in search of food and met others who were trying to walk to the highest Andean communities, because they have had no news about the fate of their relatives," said Alvarez.

In two towns, Humay and Montesierpe, all homes have totally collapsed.

"Only a few communities have water wells which means they will not have water even when electricity comes back," said Alvarez. "The other main concern is that these villages are running out of food, and as of now, they are receiving very little or no aid at all".

The assessment team also found that while some rural communities have been able to find some water by walking to rivers or small streams, it is unclean and drinking it may lead to disease.

According to Alvarez: "Although aid is thankfully beginning to reach the center of Pisco, the large population living farther away remains virtually stranded by the outside world. The longer they are without clean water, the more likely that potentially life-threatening disease will spread."

"Also, we have not seen any latrines being built in Pisco itself. Families are using toilets that aren't functioning. This further increases the possibilities of public health issues and is one of Oxfam's main concerns."

The poorest areas are the ones that consistently suffer the most during and after a natural disaster.  In Peru, 49% of the population lives below the poverty line and almost 32% of the population lives on less than $2 per day.

Map of affected areas, courtesy Peru National Institute of Civil Defense (JPEG, 333KB)

Contact Information

For more information or interviews please contact:
Celia Aldana, Lima, +51 1 9737-2499 (Spanish and English)
Renato Guimaraes, Lima, +51 1 9278-1078 (Spanish, English, and Portuguese)
Sergio Alvarez, Pisco, +51 1 9752-1895 (Spanish and English)
Francisco Boeren, Pisco, +51 1 9752-1919 (Dutch, English and Spanish)
Gonzalo Delgado, Pisco, +51 1 9752-1936 (Spanish, French and English)
Amy Barry, Oxford, + 44 1865 472313, + 44 (0)7980 664397
Liz Lucas, Boston, +1 617 728 2575, + 1 617 785 7772
Carmen Rodriguez, Madrid, +34 61 535 94 01