While the whole world's focus was on the US election, Hurricane Eta hit the Caribbean coast of Central America last week. Our partners in Honduras and Guatemala report catastrophic damage and great need for aid, and are already in the process of emergency relief work.
Most of Norwegian People's Aid's partners are affiliated with various local communities, and were therefore already present and able to start emergency relief work immediately. Food, mattresses, water and basic equipment are distributed to families affected by floods and landslides. In addition, our partners who operate various media help to spread information, collect data, connect family members who have been separated from each other, and to organize the collection of food and clothing.
The material damage caused by rain and floods is at the same level or worse than the damage after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and has affected both rural and urban areas. Several hundred people have been reported dead or missing, among them members of Norwegian People's Aid's partner organizations. The total extent of Eta is not yet clear, but in Honduras and Guatemala alone it is estimated that over two million people are affected by the natural disaster.
It may still be weeks before all the water recedes, leaving damaged homes, schools, roads, bridges and fields. One of our partners in Honduras, the farmers' organization CNTC, estimates that their members have lost 95% of their crops, including fruit trees, grain, livestock, and fish. Many of them have lost both homes and all belongings, and now live in temporary shelters, or sit on highways and bridges that are above water and wait for the flood to subside.
The long-term effects of Eta will affect communities in Honduras and Guatemala for all foreseeable future. In addition to the consequences directly related to the hurricane and the floods, there are ripple effects such as the risk of massive outbreaks of COVID-19, dengue fever and leptospirosis, which particularly affect children and can lead to serious illness.
Norwegian People's Aid is now looking at how we can support our partners in the emergency relief work they are already doing.
Updates will follow.