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Ecuador Earthquake: An Update

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Ecuador Earthquake: An Update

Since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador’s coast on 16 April 2016, it is estimated that over 720,000 people are in need of humanitarian aid. As of 28 April, 659 deaths and at least 4,605 injured have been reported as a result of the disaster. Over 29,000 individuals have sought refuge in temporary shelters and an unknown number reside in spontaneous sites and within host communities. Rapid response teams comprising of experts in Shelter, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and logistics are deployed at the request of national authorities.

After the declaration of State of Emergency, various executive measures were taken to deploy Ministers to coordinate the response at the sub-national level and appoint non-traditional State actors to lead sectorial coordination and responses. This has caused confusion among both authorities and humanitarians. Questions about how the decision making process is being developed and the prevalence of mixed messages have hindered humanitarian activities as reported by several sector partners.

The earthquake has generated vast displacement both in planned and non-planned settings and into host type arrangements. The National Risk Management (NRM) system, previously active to track displacement caused by volcanic activity and El Nino is tracking displacement in collective centers. The NRM is struggling to get a full picture of the displacement situation in informal settings and host communities. The humanitarian community and national authorities assume that many unidentified individuals are displaced in spontaneous settings, either with host families or in areas not directly affected by the earthquake. The numbers of displaced in these latter categories remain unknown making identification of their locations and needs a priority. The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is being rolled out to fill existing gaps in data collection and to more rapidly disseminate information to national authorities and humanitarian partners for a better targeted response. There is an also remains and important need to continue CCCM training to national authorities and to improve the living conditions of the spontaneous sites and within host communities.


The Coordination structure for the humanitarian response to the Ecuador Earthquake is set up around the main humanitarian sectors of assistance with agency sector leads supporting national authority sector leads at both the national level (Quito) and sub-national level (Pedernales and Portoviejo). CCCM is set-up at the national level and is supporting Shelter/NFI sector coordination at subnational level, as per arrangements with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). A current challenge is the various levels of coordination for humanitarian actors, with Ministers leading the response at sub national level while non-traditional State actors have simultaneously been tasked with leading sectorial coordination and responses. CCCM is supporting the Government, in particular the MIES, to respond to the internal displacement and the needs of the affected population. To date CCCM has provided support in adapting collective centre management tools to meet the needs and the reality of those sheltered, and in devising the minimal requirements and functions of the teams for site management. Displacement site terminology and camp management functions have been extended and clarified to inform and facilitate site improvement activities.

On 27 April, 30 government staff and camp management partners participated in CCCM trainings in Portoviejo. This is in addition to previous capacity building and preparedness activities, including multiple trainings in December 2015 through which CCCM with the support of ECHO trained 160 staff. With MIES estimating that over 400 technical experts are required to cover site management for identified sites, such preparedness efforts are proving vital in ensuring a timely response. At the request of MIES, CCCM has supported high level working groups composed by Vice Ministers from MIES, Interior, Health, Coordination and Security and Armed Forces (including the use of Ecuador’s Blue Helmet) to provide technical advice on camp management mechanisms and best practices. A camp management model based on Sphere Standards is being drafted by the above actors to be formally approved by the respective ministries. The camp management will elaborate on the division of labour and responsibility in regards to the national actors engaged in camp management. National authorities also requested support for site identification to inform the location of future camps. CCCM in coordination with the other sectors is advocating actively that camps should be the last resort and that other activities must continue to be supported and prioritized such as improving living conditions in existing sites and informing the displaced on alternatives such as host arrangements and on-going structural assessments that will help to identify areas that are safe to return to. Three suitable locations have been recommended that could be used if needed to establish sites. The current focus of CCCM is on needs identification, delivery of humanitarian assistance and its role in coordinating the sector response while awaiting formal approval by national authorities on the camp management model.