Guatemala + 2 more

Central America: Hurricane Felix Emergency Appeal No. MDR43002 Final Report


GLIDE no. TC-2007-000157

Period covered by this narrative Final Report: 1 January 2008 to 31 March 2009.

Appeal target: CHF 1,371,000 (USD 1,240,725 or EUR 856,875)

Appeal coverage: 96%;

Appeal history:

- CHF 200,000 was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Red Cross Societies of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to respond to the immediate needs.

- This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on a preliminary basis on 6 September 2007 for CHF 992,673 (USD 825,165 or EUR 601,620) for 9 months to assist 23,250 beneficiaries.

- On 25 September 2007 the budget was revised to CHF 1,105,000 (USD 918,537 or EUR 672,141).

- On 30 October 2007 the budget was revised to CHF 1,147,000 (USD 979,505 or EUR 690,964) for 9 months to assist 30,208 beneficiaries (5,370 families).

- On 18 March 2008 the budget was revised to CHF 1,371,000 (USD 1,240,725 or EUR 856,875) for 9 months to assist 31,658 beneficiaries (5,660 families).

- On 22 July 2008, the Appeal was revised and extended for an additional six months to support the institutional capacity of three National Societies to respond to future emergencies and to the structural food crisis in the region. These three National Societies are also building capacities in three specific communities.

- This Appeal formally closed at the end of December 2008 and the balance of funding (CHF 59,600.79) was transferred to the Regional Programme for Central America and Mexico. However, since activities carried out with this balance relate to the follow-up of the community projects initiated under the Huricane Felix Appeal they are included in this Final Report. The Annual Report 2008 for the Central America and Mexico region also includes brief information on these activities.

Summary: Thanks to generous contributions to this Emergency Appeal, the Regional Representation took the opportunity to develop three projects in three communities of the affected countries. The innovative programme promotes an integrated approach involving better trained and prepared volunteers to adequately respond to the needs of the targeted communities, which were initially affected by the hurricane. The programme encompasses three main areas: a) micro-projects on food security; 2) psychosocial support (PSP) interventions; and 3) volunteer network strengthening within the local Red Cross branches by integrating new volunteers from the three communities to sustain Red Cross actions. These projects have reached 1,182 direct beneficiaries (247 in Guatemala, 252 in Honduras and 674 in Nicaragua) and 196 Red Cross volunteers and permanent staff trained in psychosocial support, Humanitarian and Principles Values and volunteer network management.

The situation

Hurricane Felix was categorized on 4 September as the second hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic season, making landfall in north-eastern Nicaragua as a category five hurricane. It moved inland over north-eastern Honduras and Nicaragua and changed categories to a tropical depression. However, it severely affected thousands of families in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua with heavy rainfall and flooding.

The governments and National Societies of the affected countries worked laboriously to assess the needs and damages while providing support and relief assistance to approximately 40,887 families whose livelihoods were gravely affected by the hurricane.

Following the emergency phase the recovery phase began with an agricultural rehabilitation programme in Honduras in March 2008.

During implementation of this programme, global food prices saw an increase of 68 per cent in the first three months of 2008, the price of rice had doubled, corn was up 128 per cent and wheat jumped 163 per cent according to International Development Bank Studies. This is quite significant taking into consideration that in poor regions of Central America nearly all family income is spent on food. For example, in Honduras, 84 per cent of the family budget is spent on food. Higher food prices lead to less food consumption and higher vulnerability.

In the post recovery strategy of the Hurricane Felix emergency operation, the National Societies of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua and the International Federation's Regional Representation for Central America and Mexico implemented and integrated a food security pilot initiative, in order to respond to the food security crisis in the region. The post recovery strategy aimed to develop resilience at community level and build Red Cross capacity in order to tackle food insecurity as a consequence of natural disasters, but also as a consequence of a deeper structural crisis taking into account the chronic food insecurity situation.

During October 2008 Guatemala and Honduras experienced heavy rains that caused flooding. In the Izabal region, several families from the community of El Quetzalito (a target community of the food security pilot project) were evacuated with the support of Red Cross volunteers. After the severe rains, the PSP team previously trained was able to provide psychological support to 56 children in shelters. Once the families returned to their homes, they stated that they were now more capable of identifying coping strategies and their own recovery capacity. In Honduras, the PSP team from the Honduran Red Cross branch of Potrerillos also carried out interventions for people affected by floods.

One of the main constraints during implementation of the programme were the floods that affected Honduras and Guatemala in 2008. Unfortunately some of the programmatic activities were delayed, but on the other hand, the heavy rains gave an opportunity for the families not involved in the project to realize the benefits of participating in the strengthening of community organization and developing recovery capacity. In El Quetzalito, only 25 of 47 families were initially involved but after the floods, 100 per cent of the families participated in the different programme activities and were involved in gardening activities.