Nothing happens without fuel.
A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Northern Ecuador on Saturday, April 16. Our team of Fuel Relief Fund volunteers was on the ground in Ecuador on Thursday, April 21, distributing fuel to individuals and families in hardest-hit areas of Ecuador's Manabí Province.
Our primary aim for the response effort was to reach 10,000 households in the affected areas with fuel relief. As with each of our response efforts, the type of fuel we provide varies according to local context and need. By Saturday, after meetings with local officials, the United Nations, and other key humanitarian agencies on the ground, we identified that immediate needs included safe water and capacity to cook for individuals and families in affected remote areas. The earthquake and lack of access to fuel it created exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, and created new risks for already-impoverished local communities. Children, the elderly, single mothers and other vulnerable groups were most at risk.
Ecuadorians rely on propane tanks to cook, with refills delivered regularly by state-subsidized gas trucks that roam all parts of the countryside. Price gouging and a lack of availability of propane destroyed families’ abilities to access and purchase propane and had negative economic impacts on households and local markets. With time spent searching for fuel to meet basic needs, livelihoods – including many who worked in the services and tourism sectors – were threatened. The earthquake also damaged the propane delivery infrastructure and transportation systems, and caused water sanitation systems to be in disrepair. With the fuel we provided, families were able to heat local well and other water sources while water treatment plants were being repaired.
Volunteers from the local youth worked tirelessly to distribute fuel to their community neighbors. Our team located the closest sources of propane and a viable transportation route to the affected areas. The local administration provided several vehicles to strengthen our efforts. By the end of our first week, with the generous support of our donors, we were able to distribute nearly 5,000 10-gallon propane tanks! The distribution focused on those individuals and families that needed fuel in the Manabí Province and neighboring communities which were heavily affected by the earthquake.
By the end of our second week in Ecuador, we had distributed enough fuel to reach another 3,625 families, bringing the total number of people reached in two weeks to 34,500. During our second deployment, made possible by the generosity of Global Giving donors, we distributed another 5,045 10-gallon propane tanks, providing fuel for 20,180 people. We are excited to share that by the end of our mission, we exceeded our goal of reaching 10,000 households with fuel relief: we reached a total of 13,670 households. This means that 54,680 people received fuel relief in our three-week deployment – enough fuel to provide for an average household’s needs for one month.
During our time in Ecuador, so many people and families touched our hearts. For instance, when officials said that Bahía, Ecuador, would need to be totally rebuilt, locals said they intended to stay and rebuild it. That is the spirit of Ecuador that we came to know and love. In another instance, as a mother stood by her young son’s bedside, he cried out how grateful he was for 'pure water' that his mother used to wash his wounded leg, crushed by a falling wall in the earthquake. Without fuel, his mother would have been without a way to purify water to cleanse her son's wounds. We were also humbled by the energetic support of the local administration of Jaramijó, who presented us with an award for ‘excellent service to the people of Ecuador’ after completion of our fuel distribution.
Because we rely on volunteer support and in-kind gifts for the majority of costs, we accomplished all of this relief with $50,000. That means that each dollar we raised provided fuel for one individual – nearly half of which are children – to eat, drink safely, and bathe in warm water.
After the Ecuador response, we conducted two learning reviews, one internally, and one with our partner UN OCHA. We identified a number of areas including improving preparedness through systematization of fuel supply chain management practices, which will strengthen future response efforts. We are now integrating the learning from these two reviews into our standard operating procedures. We are also developing a beneficiary feedback tool to use during future responses, which will allow us to incorporate views of recipients of fuel relief, further strengthening our programming model.
We are grateful for the support of our donors and partners in providing emergency fuel relief necessary for Ecuadorian families while the local governments work to rebuild roads and infrastructure, and restore capacities to meet basic household needs.
Photos from Ecuador by Jana Ašenbrennerová (www.asenbrennerova.com)
Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with incredible force, leaving three states without power and thousands of people displaced without food, water, or shelter. Immediately, the Fuel Relief Fund team deployed a tanker truck filled with gasoline and drove from California to Mississippi, then to Louisiana. Conditions were devestating: highways were submerged and homes were completely destroyed, leaving miles of residential foundations as evidence.
Fuel Relief Fund provided free gasoline to victims, allowing them to power their vehicles in an effort to search for food, water, and shelter. It was this experience that cemented the establishment of the non-profit organization, Fuel Relief Fund.
The Fuel Relief Fund response to Super Typhoon Haiyan ended over the weekend after a month of support to the region. Fuel supply has been restored and the other humanitarian relief agencies and organizations, municipalities, and citizens are able to access fuel commercially.
FRF wishes to extend a sincere thanks and gratitude to all those who donated so generously in support of this relief effort. Thousands of the disaster survivors in the hardest hit areas were helped due to this response. FRF supported the victims of Haiyan directly by providing free fuel to individuals and free fuel to other relief organizations to that they could begin to provide and distribute medicine, food, water, shelter, and other services.
While this disaster response is over, please continue to donate to Fuel Relief Fund – having a good reserve in place allows quick and immediate action for the next disaster. We know that it is not “if” but “when” the next disaster will occur. Fuel Relief Fund plans to be ready “when” that occurs.
On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake stuck Haiti, leaving the entire country without power. Within two days, the Fuel Relief Fund team flew into the Dominican Republic. They crossed the border into Haiti and secured a small tanker truck.
The conditions in Haiti were dismal and dangerous. Thousands of families were displaced and were living in tent cities without light. Fueled with diesel, the team provided fuel to light up tent cities and power up generators for police stations, hospitals, medical clinics, and orphanages. The team stayed in Haiti to continue their fuel donation efforts for more than two months.
November 19, 2012 – The Fuel Relief Fund response to Superstorm Sandy ended last Tuesday (Nov. 13, 2012) as more and more local service stations opened operations. The organization wishes to extend sincere gratitude to all those who donated so generously. Over 35,000 gallons of free fuel was distributed to thousands of disaster survivors and to a variety of emergency response vehicles. Operations began November 4 and extended for 9 days of emergency fuel distribution.
While this disaster response is over, please feel free to donate to FRF – having a good reserve in place allows quick and robust action for the next event.
Over the weekend, November 10-11, 2012, Fuel Relief Fund dispensed free fuel in Far Rockaway, New York, Sea Bright, and Toms River, New Jersey.
In the winter of 2011, the Fuel Relief Fund team responded to a major earthquake in Van, Turkey. Nearly a million people were left without power. Upon arrival, the Fuel Relief Fund team realized that many displaced families had access to coal burning stoves. Within two days of arriving, the team purchased 82 tons of coal and distributed it to those most in need: the elderly, poor, sick, and single mothers. Amongst the rubble and the snow, families created make-shift tents and huddled together to stay warm. These efforts helped survivors keep warm for a month while in temporary shelters, tents, and homes.
When the tsunami struck Japan, the Fuel Relief Fund team immediately reacted. At the scene, the team witnessed absolute destruction. Huge piles of rubble were everywhere – remnants of homes, walls, roofs, mattresses, toys, furniture, and photos were scattered as far as the eye could see. Survivors were left without power. Temperatures were below freezing and many families stood in line with their small children for hours to receive heating oil. The team was overwhelmed by how appreciative, polite, and patient the Japanese were as they waited in the cold to receive just 2.5 gallons of kerosene.
The April 2015 Nepal earthquake killed over 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000. Its epicenter was east of the district of Lamjung. It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake.
Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with entire villages flattened across many districts of the country. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley.