Honduras and Central America: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 10

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 10 Nov 2008
This situation report is based on information received from, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) in the affected countries, the OCHA Regional Office in Panama and the National Hurricane Centre.

HIGHLIGHTS

- The Flash Appeal for Honduras is only 10% funded. It is estimated that 110,000 children are in need of psychosocial support.

- In Guatemala, concerns exist over the magnitude of the disaster in El Peten following a mission to this departement.

- Overall, in Guatemala and Honduras, more assistance is needed, notably in the food sector. Access remains difficult in view of the roads conditions and many communities remain isolated.

SITUATION

1. Tropical Depression No. 16 made landfall in northern Honduras on 16 October and has been slowly crossing over Central America causing heavy rains from northern Costa Rica to south-eastern Mexico. The system affected the countries of Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with heavy rains which led to flooding and mudslides. In addition to a cold front over the region, tropical depression 17, Paloma, brought additional rains.

HONDURAS

2. A series of meteorological events (Tropical Depression 16, low depression and swell) caused severe floods and landslides especially in the central and western parts of the country. The Government of Honduras declared a state of emergency through an Executive Decree on 19 October and formally requested humanitarian assistance on 20 October. The decree ordered Ministries and specialized institutions under the coordination of the Permanent Commission for Contingencies, COPECO, to take immediate necessary actions using funds from the national budget and the international community. To respond to the situation, the United nations and partners implemented an Inter-Agency Emergency Response Plan and sectoral working groups were activated for Water and Sanitation, Shelter, Health, Food Security and Nutrition, Early Recovery and Telecommunication and Logistics. A Flash Appeal, requesting USD 17 million is 10% funded, including USD 1.5 million from the CERF. 3. The floods and landslides have affected 313, 350 persons, claimed 49 deaths and injured 7. Some 50,600 persons were evacuated and 43,350 persons are living in shelters. The most vulnerable communities have lost their livelihoods and income. Their living conditions will remain precarious for several months. Seventeen out of 18 departments are affected. Agricultural land and crops ready for the harvest were lost; water systems were either contaminated or destroyed. In the Southern part of the country, 1,100 houses were flooded due to a combination of heavy rains, high tides and strong waves. It is estimated that Tegucigalpa experienced twice as much rain than the annual average during the month of October alone. In addition, the country was affected by a cold front that brought more rains, flooding and landslides.

4. Persons in shelters are slowly returning to their homes, as they do not wish the leave their property for a long time and as houses are starting to dry off. While the school year has now eneded, most of the schools that were used as shelters will need to be refurnished and repaired. UNICEF is providing cleaning equipment and material to the families that were sheltered in school buildings in order for them to leave such premises clean. It is estimated that 110,000 children are in need of psychosocial support; the lack of educational activities and psychological support reduces their chances of improving their living conditions. In addition, their families have lost their crops and livelihoods, remaining in extreme poverty and without means to send their children back to school.

5. Heavy rains have seriously damaged the water supply and sanitation systems in the most affected areas, including the Valley of Sula in the Departments of Cortés and Yoro, and the Departments of Atlántida and Colón. Some 324 water supply systems are reported damaged in the rural zones of the municipalities of El Progreso, Yoro, Yorito, Santa Rita, El Negrito, Morazán and Victoria (Department of Yoro), San Manuel, Omoa, Villanueva, Potrerillos, La Lima, Pimienta and Puerto Cortés (Department of Cortés) and Tela (Department of Atlántida), leaving approximately 50,000 people, of which 25,000 children, with no access to safe water. The Association of Municipalities of Honduras reports damage in water systems of 49 municipalities. Sanitation facilities in the flooded areas, mainly latrines, have collapsed and contaminated the wells, exposing communities to epidemics outbreaks (cholera, malaria and dengue which are endemic to the area). Rural communities in the western part of the country, including the departments of Santa Barbara and Copán, and the Department of Olancho in the Eastern part of the Department, are without access to safe drinking water. Municipalities have been distributing drinking water through water tank trucks; however their financial resources are diminishing.

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