1. According to the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Paraguay, Paraguay is being affected by drought growing more and more severe since the month of June 1999. According to meteorological forecasts for the next three months, the country will receive below normal rainfall, and temperatures are expected to be above normal.
2. The planting season of the main crops (cotton, maize, beans, vegetables) should have started in September but, due to drought, the farmers have not been able to begin relevant tasks such as tilling and planting. Severe frosts have also affected various regions of the country.
3. Following reports from the National Emergency Committee (CEN), all Departments in Paraguay have been hit by this phenomenon, in particular the Department of Concepción which, in addition, had to face frosts and, lately (during the month of September), uncontrolled fires.
4. According to the national authorities, approximately 100,000 persons have been affected by this drought emergency, of which 75,000 in the Departments of Concepción and San Pedro, in the central part of Paraguay.
5. The President of Paraguay has requested assistance from the United Nations for the Department of Concepción.
6. On 24 September 1999, the National Congress passed a law declaring the Department of Concepción in Emergency Status for a period of four (4) months.
7. A field mission, composed by representatives of FAO, UNDP, UNICEF and government institutions, took place on 19 October 1999 in the Department of Concepción. The mission held meetings with the Governor of the department and the Mayor of the city of Horqueta, one of the districts that is suffering most from this emergency.
8. Preliminary findings show that the main requirement is food for 75,000 persons, during a period of three months (until the end of the year) and for 50,000 persons, during the first three months of the year 2000. Shelter material is also needed for houses destroyed by the fires.
9. A Task Force has been created with members of this assessment mission, and will prepare a rehabilitation action program for the Department of Concepción, which will be presented soon to the President of Paraguay.
10. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions for the immediate relief needs detailed above. Funds channeled through OCHA will be spent in coordination with the relevant organizations of the UN system and OCHA will provide written confirmation of their use. Funds should be transferred to OCHA account No. CO-590.160.1 at the UBS AG, PO Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: OCHA – Paraguay – Emergency in the Department of Concepción.
11. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated blow, of relief missions, pledges or contributions and their corresponding values by item.