Hydrometeorological phenomena such as hurricanes, flooding, drought and landslides have significant influence on the population and economy of Nicaragua. Between 1994 and 2013, the average number of deaths due to hydrometeorological disasters was 160 per year, with average annual losses of 301.75 million dollars - purchasing power parity -, which is equivalent to an average annual loss per unit of GDP of 1.71%.
In Nicaragua, extreme rainfall is the most common natural phenomenon, with the highest social impact. The greatest source of damage and loss of life is linked to hurricanes that generate storms that lead to flooding, erosion and landslides. In 2007, hurricane Felix caused damages and loss equivalent to 14.4% of GDP; and in 2011, tropical depression 12E caused damages equivalent to 6.8% of GDP. Landslides represented almost 75% of all deaths related to natural disasters in Nicaragua in the period 1990-2014. In comparison, floods and sudden swellings represented approximately 15% and 3%, respectively.
Also during the years of El Niño, the probability and intensity of droughts increased. For instance, in 2014, Nicaragua underwent one of the worst droughts ever recorded with approximately half a million people affected and a resurgence of the cases of malnourishment in several areas of the Dry Corridor. 90% of agricultural production in the country depends on rainfall and only 10% is cultivated using irrigation, which shows that a significant part of the economy y depends on climate conditions.
In order to react on time, make informed decisions and prevent impacts, monitoring and analysis of meteorological, hydrological and climate conditions are required. This includes drafting forecasts for the coming hours and days, as well as weekly, monthly, seasonal and year-on-year weather prospects, and their interpretation and implementation in the management of water resources, agriculture or energy production, for instance. The main users of this information and services are the water industries (ANA, ENACAL, Nuevo FISE and MARENA), the management of disaster risk (SINAPRED) and agriculture (MAG, INTA and UPANIC).
Other users include the health, tourism and the sea and land transport industries, the construction business, engineering companies, insurance companies and the media. The National Territorial Studies Institute (INETER) is the main supplier of hydrometeorological and climate services required by different economic sectors and the population at large.
In the current conditions, the supply of hydrometeorological and climate information for different socioeconomic sectors and the country’s ability to analyse and forecast are insufficient. Bridging the gap in the existing hydrometeorological and climate services is a priority. Otherwise, the safety of the population will be limited and industries that are sensitive to hydrometeorological phenomena such as agriculture won’t have the information necessary to respond to such events.
In order to strengthen the generation of products and improve the services provided to users, a Modernisation Plan has been devised that will provide a short, middle and long term strategy. With a large number of partners and projects related to hydrometeorology, this plan also serves to coordinate the activities carried out by different projects with different financing sources and between the participating institutions.
Ultimately, this plan will serve to support the resilient development of Nicaragua to climate variability and change by means of strengthening and integrating the quality and availability of climate, meteorological and hydrological information and services.