09 Nov 2023

Humanitarian response for hurricane Otis in Mexico



Situation Overview:

Total funding requirement: USD 8.64 million # of people IOM seeks to serve: 25,300

In October 2023, Hurricane Otis rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane, striking Mexico's Guerrero coast near the popular tourist city of Acapulco. The Hurricane affected 825,000 people, causing extensive destruction to homes, hospitals, schools, and other critical infrastructure. Acapulco and the localities of Atoyac de Álvarez, Benito Juárez, Coyuca de Benítez, Técpan de Galeana, San Marcos, Florencio Villarreal, Petatlán, and Zihuatanejo de Azueta were the hardest hit. Communications and transportation systems were disrupted, resulting in power outages and interruption of services. Residents had little time to prepare for the storm. As of 8 November 2023 48, deaths had been recorded, while 48 were still reported missing.

The Federal Government of Mexico declared a state of emergency on 2 November 2023, deploying troops for emergency aid. Affected residents continue to face numerous challenges including lack of access to food, water, hygiene items, medical services, shelter, gasoline, and other supplies, heightening protection risks for persons in situations of vulnerability, including women and children. Hundreds of families remain in temporary shelters which lack basic services. Many people who were not internally displaced are remaining in homes that are highly compromised and unsafe for occupation. Approximately 273,884 houses were seriously affected, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, where up to 70% of roofs and 90% of windows were partially or completely destroyed. The recovery process is expected to be protracted and costly, with initial damage estimates of approximately USD 15 billion. It is estimated that Acapulco's reconstruction will take more than five years. The hurricane's impact on livelihoods is substantial, particularly in sectors like tourism, agriculture, and fishing, which suffered extensive infrastructural damage. Immediate and sustained support is crucial to aid affected communities in long-term recovery and mitigate humanitarian crises.

Response strategy:

IOM’s response strategy is oriented in three pillars: 1) Technical assistance for safe emergency services to Civil Protection authorities with ongoing protection monitoring; 2) Provision of essential infrastructure and assets for safe shelter in collective shelters and individual homes; and 3) Support for medium-term recovery across shelter, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction and resilience, and movements support, including planned relocation.

  1. Shelter and settlements (S&S) Months (1-20). Funding required: USD 6,000,000 # of individuals: 7,000

IOM's Shelter and Settlement (S&S) response involves four phases:

  • Technical Support for Collective Shelter Management (Months 1-12): IOM collaborates with authorities to ensure safe and humane shelter management, including frequent technical meetings, service quality monitoring, and protection and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) training.
  • Distribution of Materials to Collective Shelters (Months 1-5): IOM enhances infrastructure and provides materials for communal spaces in four collective shelters in the Acapulco area.
  • Support for Temporary Shelter Construction (Months 1-12): Families receive materials for temporary shelters and basic household items, with possible rental subsidy support.
  • Durable Household Reconstruction Support (Months 3-20): IOM aids long-term house reconstruction, focusing on resilience, potential cash-for-work initiatives, and addressing integrated multi-sectoral community needs.
  1. Multi-purpose cash assistance (Months 1 – 6) Funding required: USD 480,000 # of individuals: 1,000

IOM will provide Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) to individuals and households in Acapulco and surrounding areas severely affected by disrupted livelihoods. Targeting vulnerable groups, MPCA will involve baseline and risk assessments to ensure safe distribution. Each beneficiary will receive 2,170 MXN per month (about USD 120) with a family limit of 9,466 MXN (USD 530) for four months. Coordination will include various stakeholders, with ongoing assessments of effectiveness.

3. Planned Relocation (Months 2-20) Funding required: USD 300,000 # of individuals: 400

IOM Mexico will provide technical support for the planned relocation of families whose homes were destroyed or who prefer to move due to the hurricane's impact. This approach emphasizes community-driven strategies and adheres to principles of inclusivity and human rights. IOM will collect data and conduct consultations to identify needs, preferences, and special requirements of each family during the relocation process. This involves temporary accommodations, settlement planning, housing, and infrastructure enhancements in destination communities as needed.

 4. Disaster risk reduction and resilience (DRR) (Months 3 – 20). Funding required: USD 700,000 # of individuals: 5,000

IOM will conduct community-based disaster preparedness and resilience trainings in collaboration with federal and state disaster response authorities. This training aims to inform communities on disaster preparedness, resilience building, and ensuring the recovery of livelihoods after sudden-onset events. The curriculum includes activities like evacuation drills, emergency kit preparation, flood prevention, and more. It encourages community-driven solutions and fosters cooperation between government and local communities in disaster risk management planning. IOM also explores early warning systems and the role of community Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) focal points. This training will be followed by the implementation of basic DRR projects in collaboration with communities and focal points.

5. Protection (Months 3 – 20). Funding required: USD 210,000 # of individuals: 1,000

In disaster-affected areas, including some affected by Hurricane Otis, there's a higher risk of gender-based violence (GBV). An "Alert of Gender-Based Violence Against Women" in Guerrero, Mexico, demands immediate action to combat such violence. IOM will provide technical support to local authorities to address this, focusing on health, psychosocial support, legal aid, and security. Additionally, IOM's legal identity experts will assist in obtaining lost identity documents for affected populations to reduce vulnerability to protection risks and abuses.

6. Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) (Months 1 – 5) Funding required: USD 500,000 # of individuals: 10,500

IOM Mexico focuses on addressing mental health concerns in emergency situations. The Organization’s MHPSS assistance aims to protect and improve mental health, treating mental disorders and distress. Specialized staff will provide individual and community-based interventions, reaching 500 individuals, with referrals for complex cases. In addition, IOM will distribute 6,000 hygiene kits and 4,000 hydration kits to help meet basic hygiene and hydration needs, complementing the WASH elements under S&S.

7. Livelihoods (Months 3 – 20) Funding required: USD 450,000 # of individuals: 400

IOM will support a livelihoods initiative focusing on entrepreneurship to help those who lost their traditional income sources. This initiative provides seed funding and technical support, targeting the food services and agricultural sectors. It aims to support 25 entrepreneurs and their employees. Entrepreneurs will receive a baseline assistance of MXP 150,000 (USD 8,500) to purchase business assets, with IOM providing training and mentorship to help them start or expand their businesses. Additionally, IOM will assist fishermen and resource-dependent communities in repairing equipment and obtaining materials to restart their activities.

IOM capacity and coordination:

IOM prioritizes protection in disaster responses, aiming to safeguard rights and dignity. Disaster emergencies heighten GBV and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) risks, especially for women and girls, due to lack of services, resource scarcity, and other factors. IOM commits to agile operations and integrates mechanisms for Accountability with Affected Populations (AAP) for community engagement and feedback and promotes the design and implementation of evidence-based initiatives through data collection with the Organization’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) tool.

IOM Mexico's team of over 300 staff in 10 cities has expertise in emergency response and humanitarian assistance. The organization's units cover protection, shelter, camp coordination, labor migration, communications, cash-based interventions, WASH, information management, and program support. IOM collaborates with civil society partners and stakeholders, addressing the migration-environment-climate change nexus and promoting labor market opportunities and decent work. IOM's work aligns with various strategies and frameworks, including its National Strategy, regional strategies, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.