Via MSF.org: Earthquake in Ecuador: “We want to restore people’s normal daily activities”. Excerpt:
Pedernales, in the province of Manabi, was one of the districts most badly damaged by the earthquake that struck Ecuador on 16 April. In less than 40 seconds, the area was almost completely destroyed. Houses, hotels, buildings, shops and canteens were demolished by the quake and many people died under the rubble.
The affected community lost everything: their homes, their businesses and many even lost their lives. That day, in just one building near the city’s coast, 70 people died while celebrating a wedding.
“We lost everything. We thought the end of the world had come that day,” said 65-year-old Manuel from the Tamarindo neighbourhood. “Some of the neighbours went to the countryside to escape the tremors while others took refuge in Pedernales stadium. Whoever runs away, survives.”
MSF in Pedernales
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has six psychosocial care points in Pedernales. Some are located in shelters; others, in one of the town’s neighbourhoods. Néstor Rubiano, coordinator of the MSF Colombia team in Ecuador, said that, in general, there are areas where more than 40 people are in shelters while in other areas help has yet to arrive. “We are carrying out psychosocial interventions to try to restore people’s normal daily activities as quickly as possible,” he said.
In Pedernales, around 80 per cent of the properties in the community were damaged by the earthquake. Although official aid and help from private institutions and civil society has been arriving over the last week, “as it often happens in these kinds of natural disasters that generate a large number of needs, the lack of coordination between the different people and organisations involved in this emergency is often still a problem,” he said.
“In terms of psychosocial care, we are trying to collaborate with local psychologists. But generally, psychologists find themselves having to deliver humanitarian aid, such as food and water, rather than carrying out their psychosocial activities. In the few cases where psychosocial care is being provided, it is not being carried out in an organised manner and is lacking in follow-up plans. This creates a vacuum, which is why MSF is providing psychosocial assistance,” said Rubiano. In addition, in some areas of Pedernales, MSF is donating water tanks and tents.