A 7.8 earthquake thundered along Ecuador’s Pacific Coast on April 16, 2016 and subsequent aftershocks caused extensive damage and killed more than 650 people. The epicenter was 27 kilometers from the small coastal town of Muisne (west of the Province of Esmeraldas), with a depth of 20 kilometres. The worst damage was reported in the village of Pedernales, with a population of 55,000,which was declared a "disaster zone".
ACT Alliance members planned to support 2,000 families in the Canton of Muisne, Province of Esmeralda with Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Community Based Psychosocial Support (CBPS).
ACT Appeal HERE
Shortly after the earthquake, ACT members visited the affected zone in the Esmeraldas province and identified priority needs of the communities. The emergency hit the inhabitants of this area, already affected by poverty, very hard. The joint response between CLAI and DKH has helped alleviate the suffering and needs of 700 of the most affected families.
"The earthquake response clearly showed that as an alliance we can assist the affected population more effectively and efficiently than individually. ACT Secretariat immediately flew in and facilitated coordination and attended coordination meetings on behalf of the alliance. The appeal was one project with complementary components instead of a sum of individual projects. Both ACT members Church of Sweden and Christian Aid mobilised staff immediately to assist DKH and CLAI on the ground (besides mobilising funding). Overall a very good experience which hopefully can be duplicated in future responses." (Marino Jansen, DKH Latin America Regional office)
"In general, it was appreciated that there are many lessons learned about how churches can make a difference in humanitarian interventions. The affected people who received support said: ‘CLAI came to give us a message that we are people with dignity and rights. It helped us to organize ourselves as a community and we learned to live with confidence and to know what to do in the fear of the tremors that we continue to feel.’ From our perspective, this is the gospel message that needs to be present in every service action to communities regardless of religion, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, race or nationality." (Milton Mejia, CLAI General Secretary)
Check out below a short video about the local response (in Spanish)
The Ecuador earthquake was the first sudden emergency faced as ACT Latin America and the Caribbean regional office and happened in a context where we don’t have a national forum or member with humanitarian experience. Capacity building, participation and resource sharing were the key in our response.
ACT responded to this emergency with a regional approach, mobilizing five members from three forums (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia) and the regional officer, bringing enough expertise to coordinate with the national authorities, humanitarian network, civil society, churches and communities and at the same time providing trainings to CLAI and local leaders, conducting needs assessments and planning the ACT response.
In a second phase assistance was provided from members and churches from Colombia and Chile in different components, especially in psychosocial support to the communities and local leaders in Ecuador. Also, an internal dynamic of capacity building was created between the implementing members’ teams, DKH and CLAI both learned and supported each other with complementary actions.
As a regional office, we are very grateful to our forums and members because the trainings and EPRPs are really proving that we are better able to support the vulnerable and affected communities.