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Peruvians still homeless year after quake

The vast majority of people in the earthquake zone are still without basic shelter as the Peruvian winter takes hold, warns Christian Aid.

Thousands of Peruvians in the cities of Ica and Pisco took to the streets in protest last week to highlight the lack of progress in rebuilding efforts in the year since 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck southern Peru, killing more than 500 people and injuring at least 1,600. 

'People are disgusted that more than a year on, 80 per cent of the population are practically still living in the street. Sheltering in tents and temporary plastic structures, they have nothing to protect them against the cold,' said Father Manuel, a Catholic priest who runs a medical project called Health Houses, supported by Christian Aid.

Most people have spent the cold winter months with just plastic sheeting between themselves and the elements. The affected areas are about 150 miles from the capital of Lima.

'A year on, everybody in the outside world seems to have forgotten about the earthquake, but what people don’t realise is that most of those who lost their homes are still living amongst the rubble,' said Adriana Lei, from the Lima office of Christian Aid.

The worst hit areas are Ica,  Chincha and Pisco, where many of the houses were built of fragile mud bricks. In Luren, one of the poorest areas on the outskirts of Ica, 90 per cent of the houses collapsed. 

According to the Peruvian government, 75,786 homes were destroyed.  So far, only about 1,000 have been rebuilt with another 6,000 or so due to be completed in the next few months.

Christian Aid partners provided medicines and temporary shelters in the immediate aftermath. More recently, Health Houses has built 100 nursery schools in the poorest neighbourhoods, so that adults have a safe place to leave their children when they go out to work.

Health Houses has also provided several ‘demonstration’ houses for vulnerable people made of traditional quiccha – straw and wood bound with mud.

'These structures are much stronger than the adobe houses people were living in before the earthquake and are very cheap to construct,' added Father Manuel.

Christian Aid funded emergency relief for those affected by the floods that affected Ica in 1998, so the staff of its partner organisations are experienced in providing both rapid relief and long term rehabilitation.


Notes to editors

1. For further information or to arrange an interview with Dina Guerra, regional manager for Christian Aid based in Lima, please call Sarah Wilson on +44 (0) 207 523 2277 or email swilson@christian-aid.org.