HURRICANE Eta is causing devastation across Central America since it made landfall in Nicaragua last week. Torrential rain has led to deadly landslides and widespread floods that have left thousands of people stranded. Initial reports indicate that millions of people across the region have been affected. Christian Aid has secured over £40,000 of funding to help with recovery efforts in Nicaragua.
Christian Aid and its local partner Soppexcca will deliver food and hygiene kits to 5,000 individuals who are in desperate need and will also refer them for psychological support if required. They face food insecurity, malnutrition and increased health risks, including COVID-19. Relief efforts will concentrate on remote areas in the north-east of the country where accessibility was already a challenge before the hurricane.
The category 4 hurricane hit Nicaragua’s north-eastern Atlantic coast and, as it moved slowly across the region, dumped enormous amounts of heavy rain. The storm has now made landfall in Florida, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and hundreds dead or missing.
The scale of the disaster is still to be established but according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), early estimates point to over 2.5 million people affected across Central America, primarily in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.
In Nicaragua, the National Disaster Prevention System (SINAPRED) has reported at least 130,000 people impacted, including 30,000 who have been placed in temporary shelters. While a higher number of deaths have been reported in Honduras and Guatemala, Nicaragua’s particularly fragile economy and context of reduced foreign aid pose considerable challenges in ensuring adequate and timely assistance to those that need it most.
Moises Gonzalez, Christian Aid’s Head of Latin America and the Caribbean, based in the capital, Managua, said:
“We were braced for the storm to hit but what’s causing most concern now is the flooding and food shortage. Flooding brings with it increased risk of outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.
“People’s homes and livelihoods have been left in tatters. Long-term, the impact on incomes will be significant, as many have lost the bulk of their crops and especially as the coffee harvest is due to start this month. Safe shelters are limited, and many vulnerable communities are isolated due to landslides and roads blocked with debris. We need to reach them fast and thanks to the funding we have secured, our local partner organisation Soppexcca can start that work immediately.”
Working in partnership with partners Soppexcca and Centro Humboldt as well as peer agencies operating in Nicaragua, Christian Aid secured £40,703 specifically for the emergency response in Nicaragua. This comes from The Start Fund which is collectively owned and managed by Start Network’s members and supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Jersey and the IKEA Foundation. It provides rapid financing to underfunded crises, filling a critical gap in humanitarian financing.