Volcano La Soufriere eruption in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
La Soufriere volcano, located in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (VCT), has been active since 29 December, 2020. The volcanic activity started with effusive eruption, formation of a volcanic dome, as well as changes to crater lake and seismic events. The activity rapidly increased on 8 April 2021 at 3:00 am, local time.
On 8 April 2021 at 4:00 pm, the Prime Minister issued an order to evacuate the volcano red zone (over 20,000 individuals) due to an imminent explosive eruption. On 9 April, evacuations of the orange zone started as the volcano entered in a phase of active explosive eruptions.
The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) of VCT has rapidly activated a network of 76 emergency shelters. However, due to community spread and asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in the island, public health risk involved in gathering in a shelter is significant.
Rapid response operations have started with the pre-positioning of 4 cruise ship to shelter affected individuals in the island, and the offer of Antigua, Grenada and St Lucia to accommodate about 2,600 evacuated individuals.
PAHO has mobilized essential medical and biosafety supplies and equipment from its reserve centre in Barbados to increase the surge capacity of the local health sector network. Support provided also includes emergency coordination, technical cooperation, and mobilization of experts in the areas of logistics and WASH.
- Newsletter on health risk mitigation during Volcanic Eruptions
- Epidemiological protocols for populations affected by volcanic eruptions
- Caribbean Shelter Guide: COVID-19 Considerations
- Recommendations on Environmental Public Health for Temporary Shelters
- UN Funding Appeal - Explosive Eruption of La Soufriere Volcano
Call for Action
The volcano has now entered the explosive eruptive phase that may last over weeks or months, with continued explosions that are expected to be of similar of larger magnitude.
It is estimated that about 20,000 persons will have to be relocated. This represents approximately 18% of the 110,589 (2019) island population. Significant disruption and restriction of access to health services is anticipated due to the impact of the eruption of transportation as well as expected damage to health facilities. Current urgent health needs and gaps revolve around ensuring safe and adequate sheltering for the evacuated persons and strengthening the health system surge capacity to ensure continued access to essential and emergency care for vulnerable individuals and potential victims in the aftermath of the eruption while maintaining capacity to detect and treat COVID-19 patients.
This initial donor alert outlines the financial requirements for the next 3 months to carry out urgent priority actions to support response efforts to the volcanic eruption emergency in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. US$ 1.7M is needed to help maintain and scale-up care delivery capacity of essential health services island wide, strengthen the prevention, timely detection and control of infections and support comprehensive needs assessments, coordination and operational logistics to facilitate an agile and evidence-based response.