Emilie Della Corte, Emergency Programme Officer during the Tabasco Flood

Emilie Della Corte, Emergency Programme Officer during the Tabasco Flood

Soon after the Mexican floods hit, Caritas launched an appeal for US$2 million to help the people of Tabasco.

Emilie Della Corte works for Caritas Internationalis’ (CI) Emergency Response team in Rome. She and another colleague went to Mexico City to support Caritas Mexico in developing their emergency appeal. The document would request donations from some of the 162 organisations that belong to the Caritas global network.

“It was my first emergency for Caritas. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Emilie Della Corte. “We don’t send a team from Caritas Internationalis to every emergency, but the Tabasco floods were the worst natural disaster to hit Mexico in 50 years, so it was all hands on deck.

Before the appeal was launched Caritas workers in the flooded region had to provide precise information regarding how many people needed help, their location, how easy was it to access them, what stocks were already available in the area, were enough staff on the ground and what other organisations were providing.

“It’s really important to get a clear detailed appeal out to our members as quickly as possible,” said Ms Della Corte.

“Each member uses that appeal to raise funds in their own country. It makes sense to coordinate the appeal otherwise you could have 162 members on the phone asking how they can help and that’s time consuming when you have a major emergency.”

The Tabasco request for funds aimed to provide over 48,000 people living in temporary accommodation with food, water, sanitation facilities, healthcare and other essentials over the course of three months.

One million people were affected in Tabasco, but in this emergency as with others, the humanitarian community divided up the caseload so as many people as possible were helped.

Ms Della Corte encouraged members of Caritas Mexico emergency team to use existing emergency tools to ensure the development of a successful response plan.

“We work according to various standards set out in the Caritas Internationalis Emergency Guidelines. That means we aim to ensure our relief efforts meet internationally recognised standards and that each appeal reflects the core beliefs of partnership and subsidiarity that bind the Caritas Confederation together.

Meanwhile, the Sphere standards for disaster management are also used by humanitarian agencies and NGOs to ensure that minimum measures are met. These guidelines advise on such things as providing adequate food and water rations and ensuring that suitable hygiene conditions are met in order to prevent the spread of disease.

“By the end, it was an exhausting experience but I felt it went really well. I learnt about the pressures our members face in responding on the ground and Caritas Mexico had a better idea of how to a develop and effective emergency appeal,” said Ms. Della Corte.