A delegation of ambassadors and representatives of the international cooperation reached El Espinillo, in the Paraguayan Chaco, to see firsthand the hardships that the indigenous people went through during this year’s floods and what their needs are more than six months after the disaster. While their situation remains dramatic, the humanitarian response has brought hope for the future.
ASUNCION --Never before have we received so many visitors from so many different countries,” said Felipe Caballero, leader of the community of El Espinillo in the Paraguayan Chaco, during his welcoming words to the Ambassadors of Switzerland, France and Korea, a diplomatic delegation of Japan and representatives of the KOICA and AECID.
They joined the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Paraguayan government officials for a field visit to this community some 320km from the capital city of Asuncion with the aim of learning about the current situation of the indigenous people who were affected by natural disasters and the impact of the humanitarian relief they are receiving from the United Nations.
Felipe organized the community to receive the visitor and told them about the hardships they went through during and after a prolonged drought and unusual heavy rains and floods which only worsen their precarious life situation. He said that after the floods El Espinillo was isolated for four months, a period in which community members fell ill and food was scarce.
During the visit, WFP and the National Emergency Secretariat (SEN, in Spanish) carried out the fourth food distribution to the community and they are scheduled to last until December. Meanwhile FAO and OXFAM have also distributed seeds and other agricultural inputs among the community to them recover. However, during the visit it was clear that the families of El Espinillo have not yet been able to recover and they will have to wait until the next harvest in March or April 2013 to get back on their feet.
In the meantime and until the next harvest arrives, Flora Valdez, mother of four children, cooks beans, rice, flour, and cooking oil available to feed her family. In her home, she explained to the visitors that WFP’s support means her children would avoid having to face hunger. She listed water, food and health care for her children are her most urgent needs. The international visitors also observed the water source of the community, which is also used by animals.
Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives left El Espinillo with information about the needs its people and solving these needs will require long-term actions.