The context

In the summer of 2018, amidst the European hit wave, a series of wildfires began in the coastal areas of Attica. As a result, 100 people were confirmed dead. The fires were the second-deadliest wildfire in the 21st century, after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia that killed 180 people.

In September 2018, the team of Bodossaki Foundation completed an extensive needs assessment in the areas of Rafina and Marathon which were mainly affected by the fires. Our needs assessment methodology included desk research, site visits, as well as consultation meetings with civil society organizations and stakeholders active on the ground, providing first aid and support to wildfire victims.

Addressing real needs

The provision of basic support services as well as psychosocial services to the local population turned out to be vital. The sudden loss of family members and friends as well as a series of serious practical issues (related mainly to housing, full loss or damage of one’s household, belongings etc.) had a direct impact not only on the psychological status of the people affected but also on the functioning of the local communities affected by the fires. The local population needed to be supported not only in terms of material/financial support (which was important in order to cope with immediate expenses) but, perhaps more importantly, in the long run, it needed support in order to overcome the trauma those people had suffered by being directly exposed to the fires. If left untreated, this trauma would develop into a post-traumatic shock, with multiple long-term implications on the mental health and balance of the inhabitants, their families, and the community.

Approach and goals

Having received funding by The Coca-Cola Foundation, our team designed a holistic programme which provided both financial/material as well as psycho-social support.

Psycho-social interventions were planned and implemented in a timely manner in order to support the victims of fires. Specialized support for dealing with natural disasters and trauma would be offered by professionals and experts in trauma either by visiting people at their houses or at the premises of local Health Centers. Priority would be given to support those who had been directly affected (e.g. loss of relatives, property, and others) with a long term plan of services. Furthermore, financial allowances of 1.500 € would be given to those directly affected by the fires, on the basis of social and economic criteria and in a manner that complemented state allowances while making provisions for exceptional cases which did not meet the criteria for state allowances but still had largely unmet financial needs.

Implementing Partners

Caritas Hellas provided financial allowances of 1,500 € to those directly affected by the fires, on the basis of social and economic criteria and in a manner that complemented state allowances. Provisions were also made for exceptional cases which did not meet the criteria for state allowances but still concerned victims with largely unmet financial needs.

The Association of Regional Development and Mental Health (EPAPSY) as well as Doctors of the World undertook the task of phyco-social support. Victims were reached at the phyco-social support centres of local municipalities, at temporary accommodation locations, through home visits and through community events.

Results and achievements

The total number of people who benefited directly or indirectly by this program exceeded the target value of 1,400 people to 2,135. Direct beneficiaries concern people receiving financial allowances, food packages and/or psycho-social services. Indirect beneficiaries concern people who benefit from the program’s community activities. All beneficiaries are victims of the wildfires and in addition, in most cases, suffer from some sort of vulnerability, financial, medical or psycho-social.

More specifically:

  • 110 households received financial allowances, which catered for their immediate needs
  • Food packages were distributed on a constant basis among 30 households.
  • A total of 2,606 sessions and psycho-social support actions were provided to the affected population.
  • 37 community activities took place in the course of the implementation of the programme.

Sustainability

The Bodossaki Foundation sought out and found additional funding, which allowed for the provision of financial allowances to 12 more families and psycho-social support to 200 people.