Survey Project on La Plata Floods

On April 2, 2013 the Ciudad de La Plata, capital of the Argentinean Province of Buenos Aires, suffered intense rainfall and flooding that caused one in every three households to be affected. In a joint effort among Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), UNLP’s Facultad de Ciencias Económicas (FCE) and the Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies (CEDLAS), a representative survey of the city was conducted to measure different variables affected by the heavy precipitations.

The survey was carried out April 27-28 and May 4-5. The interviewers and the coordinators were advanced students from the FCE and researchers from CEDLAS, respectively.

The survey included a socioeconomic section, that intended to characterize the interviewed households, and an economic losses section, which measured the direct impact of the floods on tangible assets in surveyed households.

The report also included a survey of the health of children under 6, (considered the most vulnerable population), in order, to determine how this group was affected. In this specific case, the intention of the survey was to measure the impact of the floods on rapid transmission diseases as a consequence of the sanitary deficiencies. The illnesses considered in the survey were diarrhea and respiratory diseases.

Additionally, a group of questions were included to measure the psychosocial impact of this catastrophe. The test measured the frequency and intensity of assessed symptoms and is known as Davidson Trauma Scale. This test was previously used in other disasters, including the earthquake/tsunami registered in Chile in 2010. The scale consists of 17 items and measures the frequency and severity in a scale of 0 to 4 (ascendant order), allowing a score between 0 and 136. Some authors propose a cut-off point of 40 to determine if post-traumatic stress is present among respondents.

It is worthwhile to mention that even though the final results will not provide information on causation, they will evidence the importance of conducting surveys after catastrophes as a method of measuring their scope in multiple dimensions. The final results of this project will be announced soon.  

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