SCF: Central America floods

Report
from Save the Children
Published on 12 Oct 1999
More than 100,000 people have been displaced and 70 have died as a result of heavy rains in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexico is now bearing the brunt of the rains as the tropical storm moves north; flooding and mudslides have already killed 218 people there.
Honduras, only just recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch 12 months ago, is struggling to cope with the impact of the storm. Mitch poured mud into the country's drainage systems leaving them vulnerable to flooding. Bridges that had just been rebuilt after Mitch have been destroyed again.

As of Friday 8 October the rains in Honduras had abated, and the national red alert had been switched to yellow. But soils are saturated and dams are filled to capacity. There is still one month left of the hurricane season and there are fears of further heavy rains that would lead to greater flooding.

Key issues affecting children

Displacement has caused physical and emotional disruption and suffering to thousands of children and their families. In many districts, schools were closed as families fled their homes for higher ground.

Health and sanitation conditions in the centres where people have come together for shelter are poor. A shortage of medicine and inadequate sanitation means that there is a risk of disease; young children would be the worst affected.

Much agricultural land has been flooded, threatening family livelihood in the longer term. According to the World Food Programme, crop losses in the region could top $40 million.

SCF response

In Honduras the government is providing food and shelter to affected populations but it has limited capacity to respond to health and sanitation needs. SCF will provide $83,000 worth of medicines and latrines to local government authorities in 40 out of Honduras' 298 municipalities.

The local Save the Children, ASCH (Association Save the Children Honduras), has seconded a doctor and engineer to SCF (UK) so that it can continue to monitor the impact of the floods on children and their families. A more detailed assessment of needs is currently underway, and may lead to the provision of further emergency assistance.