GOAL teams in Honduras are responding to support communities who have seen their livelihoods devastated in the remote La Moskitia region after Hurricane Eta ripped through the region.
The storm caused catastrophic landslides and flooding in Central America with Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala the worst affected regions with scores dead and more than 200,000 people evacuated from their homes.
Up to 1.8 million people in Honduras are now thought to have been directly affected by the storm. Around 88,000 people are also reported to have been evacuated across different parts of the country. Rescue teams are frantically trying to find missing people before Hurricane Iota hits flooded areas on Monday. It’s feared that Hurricane Iota will hamper rescue efforts and displace thousands more in the coming days. Iota’s storm surge is expected to increase water levels by up to 13 ft in the region.
Indigenous communities report huge losses
Indigenous communities supported by GOAL have been significantly affected in Honduras. Many families have lost everything and have left without access to water, food and medicine. Several communities are waiting for assistance with sources of drinking water contaminated. Local and Government department emergency committees, with the support of GOAL, have started delivering essential food items to those affected.
La Moskitia is remote coastal region with a population of around 80,000, home to four different indigenous groups. The area is only reachable by plane or boat. GOAL is conducting a ‘damage and needs assessment’ across the region. Early indications are of an almost total loss of agriculture and fishing produce, the main livelihood source for local communities.
Emergency shelters for affected cities
With funding from Irish Aid, GOAL teams will also support over 160 families housed in emergency shelters in the urban areas of La Lima and Villanueva. Female-headed households, people with disabilities, families with young children and the elderly are being prioritised for financial support.
With winds of 150 mph, Hurricane Eta is one of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years. The effects of Hurricane Eta in Central America have been compared to that of Hurricane Mitch, which left more than 11,000 people dead in 1998. Mitch also destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and caused more than $5 billion in damages.
Covid-19 compounding relief efforts
This crisis comes at a time when Honduras is facing the challenges of Covid-19. Up to 100,000 positive cases already confirmed in the country. Ahead of the global pandemic, Honduras was reported to be the second poorest country in Latin America, with 60% of the population living in poverty. New secondary socio-economic effects of the pandemic, such as increased economy recession, and external debt, are also exacerbating the country´s pre-existing economic crisis. In the cities of San Pedro Sula and La Lima, there has been widespread flooding in densely populated informal urban settlements. Evacuations have been ongoing with families stranded on rooftops awaiting rescue.
The National Disaster Risk Management System has been overwhelmed by the rapid onset and scale of the emergency. As part of its response, GOAL will use its specialist experience in urban risk reduction to ensue that Covid-19 information is accessible. And to ensure that the response includes active participation from vulnerable people.