Seventy-eight people have been killed and more than 100,000 left homeless after a series of torrential downpours upended Peru's Pacific coast.
In the midst of the disaster, Plan International is focused on protecting children and restoring normalcy for young people like Angie.
“I like to study and learn,” she said. “Now we are facing difficulties because our things are wet, some of them don’t work anymore and others were taken by the water… it’s like starting all over again.”
The 17-year-old’s house was recently flooded and she and her family lost their food, clothes, and furniture, along with a stove they had recently bought with their savings. Despite the heavy rain, she is still walking to school every day, often enduring dangerous electrical storms.
A sudden and abnormal warming of Pacific waters off the Peruvian coast has been blamed for unleashing a torrent of water. The intense rains are the worst seen in two decades, authorities have said.
Plan is working to provide children, families, and communities affected by the floods in Piura and Lima with hygiene and sanitation kits, building materials to repair their homes, and food and water. Plan will also be establishing child-friendly spaces to give children a safe place to play and learn, provide psychosocial support, and help them restore a sense of normalcy.
“Disasters can generate different emotions in children, such as fear, a sense of loss, pain, or anger,” said Oscar Calero, Plan International’s Child Protection Specialist. “They can all affect children’s self-esteem and stunt their development. Many children have lost their homes and some have lost family members. Emergency situations can also affect adults, causing violent or angry reactions, which children are exposed to.”
So far, more than 500,000 people have been affected by the heavy rains, floods, and landslides in 20 regions of the country. Although there is no official number yet as to the number of children affected, more than 200,000 are estimated to have been impacted by this emergency.
“It is crucial to pay attention to education in emergency situations,” said Calero. “Children need to return to school, or alternative learning spaces need to be found so that they can continue with their education either in a formal or non-formal environment.
“When disaster strikes, the government’s and civil society’s first response is to provide material support. However, people also suffer psychologically and need professional support to help them cope with tragedy. This support can help them face the changes they are experiencing in their lives, and give them the opportunity to process them, recover, and continue with their lives.”