Massive flooding in Central America
In a year filled with seemingly unending natural disasters, and coming upon the heels of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States, and the devastating earthquake in Pakistan, the crisis in Central America has been largely under reported by American media, resulting in lack of public awareness and lack of adequate funding for relief efforts.
American Jewish World Service is responding to the massive flooding in Central America caused by a series of hurricanes, tropical storms and a volcano that occurred throughout the month of October, affecting El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The storms have brought about five feet of rainfall to the region: almost an entire year's worth in a three-week period.
Flooding and mudslides have buried entire villages, forced thousands of people to evacuate into 400 shelters in El Salvador alone, killed more than 2,000 in Guatemala, and left tens of thousands of people homeless or with lost livelihoods in Honduras and Nicaragua.
Two entire departments of Honduras -- Colón and Gracias a Dios -- remain cut off due to rough seas and failed bridges, leaving 300,000 people without a source of supply except for sporadic helicopter and airplane drops.
Oxfam estimates that the financial impact and costs of recovering from the widespread destruction will exceed even those of 1998's disastrous Hurricane Mitch.
Several AJWS grantee partners and communities with whom AJWS has been working for many years have been severely affected, including La Coordinadora in El Salvador that AJWS helped re-build after Hurricane Mitch and which has hosted hundreds of AJWS volunteers. In fact, it was a disaster signal system funded by AJWS after Hurricane Mitch that ensured the evacuation of the entire community and prevented deaths.
AJWS Provides Immediate Relief and Long-Term Reconstruction
AJWS has already provided food, bedding, clean water, and medical supplies to the affected areas, specifically in communities that have been isolated due to blocked roads or where refugees were housed in non-governmental (church- or NGO-operated) shelters that were ignored by their governments' relief provision efforts.
AJWS is restoring livelihoods and supporting community advocacy efforts for better reconstruction and relief efforts from their governments. Grants are being provided to partner organizations to re-activate agricultural production with short-term crops that can use the residual soil moisture left behind by the floods to provide food to be harvested between December and February.
AJWS is also providing funding for construction materials for homes lost in the mudslides, as well as construction of temporary shelters. AJWS is supporting the training of human rights monitors in psychosocial support for disaster victims and training for local community groups in environmental monitoring, disaster preparedness, and coordination and dialogue with local governments.
AJWS needs your help. Please make a donation to this relief and reconstruction effort.