Hurricane Eta made landfall on 3 November on the northern Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, with 240 km/h winds. The storm continued moving slowly inland and left a trail of destruction across Central American countries. Heavy rainfalls led to catastrophic, lifethreatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain in Central America, with a devastating effect on waterlogged lands already heavily impacted by the intense rainy season. Two weeks after impacting the sub-region, countries are still facing the widespread direct and indirect impacts left by Eta.
The extent of damages and humanitarian needs are still being assessed with access to some of the affected areas remaining challenging. Available data indicates that nearly 4.6 million people have been affected in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, among them around 1.8 million children. Thousands of families have lost their homes and livelihoods, many of them had already been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, some 125,000 people have been evacuated to shelters (including approx. 49,000 children), where many will have to remain for a longer period as their houses and communities are not safe.
In addition, there is now concern over a double disaster with a second storm in the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Iota appeared as a catastrophic category 5 hurricane on 16 November, with a similar path to Hurricane Eta. Colombia’s Caribbean islands, San Andres and Providencia, were the first hit by Iota, leaving unprecedented destruction, damaging 98 per cent of the Providencia island’s infrastructure.ii On 17 November, Iota made landfall along the northeaster coast of Nicaragua with sustained winds of 250 km/h, leaving at least six people dead and 63,000 peopleiii forced to evacuate their communities once more, fearing for losing their lives, their houses and their livelihoods. Iota has caused heavy rainfall, leading to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides in parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama. Iota has affected not only many of the communities already impacted by Eta, but many additional ones.
4.6 million People affected by Eta
1.8 million Children affected by Eta
3.4 million People in need (due to Eta)
1.3 million Children in need (due to Eta)
646,943 People to be reached*
327,605 Children to be reached*
UNICEF estimated funding requirement* US$42.6 millioni