Helping Honduras

Report
from Mercy Corps
Published on 13 Nov 2008 View Original
Mercy Corps is helping restart agricultural production in flood-soaked Honduras by distributing corn and bean seeds to 1,300 farmers - enough to plant 2,300 acres worth of food crops lost due to torrential rains.

Getting farmers back to work is critical to meeting the nutritional needs of Honduran families. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 320,000 people are affected by intense rainfall that has led to conditions aid workers compare to Hurricane Mitch, which killed more than 5,000 people in 1998.

Although the number of deaths in this disaster has been much less - 60 people - the flooding has been worse, according to Chet Thomas, Mercy Corps' representative in Honduras and director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG). Across Honduras, more than 70,000 people are in need of shelter and the number in need of food assistance is increasing, according to the UN. Devastating crop losses have been reported.

An Immediate Response

Our emergency response has included distribution of basic food supplies, critical medicines and health kits, blankets for children and adults, soap and shelter canvases to more than 3,000 families who've lost their homes, crops and livestock.

We continue to attend to the needs of 800 families in shelters, and continue to distribute mattresses, blankets and medical kits to affected families.

Mercy Corps has hired additional staff and are distributing seven tractor-trailer loads of fertilizers to hard-hit areas. There is still a small window of opportunity for replanting. Families who do so will harvest a food crop in February and March, while other farm families may not have any food until next September.

PAG and Mercy Corps are also beginning work to repair more than 70 community water systems that were severely damaged by flooding and landslides. We're helping deliver clean water to more than 50,000 people through our partnership with ITT Watermark. Two village-scale water-purification systems on loan from ITT are delivering up to 6,800 liters of potable water an hour each until municipal water is restored. Mercy Corps is an ITT Watermark emergency response partner, which includes a three-year, $1 million commitment from ITT to help provide safe water during water-related emergencies such as floods, hurricanes and cyclones.

A History of Helping

Mercy Corps has worked in Honduras since 1982 - longer than anywhere of the nearly 40 countries where we currently work. Many of our programs directed by our 140-person staff are in and around Comayagua, an area severely affected by the rains. There, we're serving 400 communities through a network of community pharmacies, helping improve schools and reducing the incidence of domestic violence.

We also responded with assistance after Hurricane Mitch, making replanting crops a priority so farmers wouldn't miss an entire season.