Nicaragua: Preparatory Action for Tropical Storms - DREF Plan of Action, Operation N° MDRNI012


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

According to the Colorado State University, it is forecasted that 2022 will be an above-average hurricane season, with at least 19 named storms and nine hurricanes — four of which will be Category 3 or higher. An average season has typically 14 named storms, around seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

This potential set of powerful hurricanes expected to hit Mexico, the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean in 2022 will make it one of the seasons with the most significant number of storms and hurricanes in the continent's history. 2020 was marked by 30 powerful storms and hurricanes that broke records in a short time, including hurricanes Eta and Iota, category 5 and 4, which hit the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast. This is one of the reasons why the target departments have been chosen as potential areas that will require assistance. Rapid Response units will remain alert through a system that monitors the situation and carry out activities to strengthen and equip local branches at the national level. This is part of the planned anticipatory action that focuses on an efficient mechanism to address various threat scenarios in the country.

Intense to moderate scattered rains have fallen across most of the country during the third week of April 2022, which, together with the soils' permeabilization, have led to collateral effects such as the early saturation of the soil and structural damage such as the collapse of the Miraflores bridge that connects Los Brasiles and Ciudad Sandino in Managua department. In this regard, the urban and rural development seen across the country has modified the context. By failing to build based on local risk studies, newly exposed areas at risk of suffering the ravages of adverse events have been created.

Nicaragua has a population of 6,518,478 in 2020, of which 3,302,000 women and 3,216,478 men, with predominantly young people, 74% of whom are under the age of forty. Due to its geographical position, it is exposed to the recurrent impact of various natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, landslides, droughts, and tropical cyclones. All these events can affect the population by directly impacting individuals, families, and communities. The total population of Waspam, Puerto Cabezas and Prinzapolka, where actions will be carried out, is 231,944.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index3, from 1998 to 2017, Nicaragua was ranked sixth among the top ten countries most exposed and vulnerable to extreme weather events. Due to the territory's high vulnerability, each cyclone season will likely continue to affect the departments of Chinandega, León, Managua, Rivas, Carazo, Granada, Masaya, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Estelí, Nueva Segovia, Somoto, Juigalpa, Boaco, San Carlos, and the Northern and Southern Caribbean regions.

While some unforeseeable events will require response actions, some foreseeable events will allow declaring states of alert, taking anticipatory actions and preparing contingency plans to be better prepared and efficiently plan for response to different situations and contexts. Nicaraguan Red Cross (NRC) is obliged to respond per Law No. 337 - Law that Creates the National Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Response System, Art.2: Principles of the National Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Response System, Decree No. 98-2000 - which mandates scenario planning under an efficient mechanism to respond to and mitigate the risks that depend on social, cultural and/or disaster factors and which at all times ensures the preservation and safeguarding of lives in disaster contexts.

In the last 20 years, Nicaragua has been hit by major extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Mitch in 1998, Beta in 2005, Felix in 2007, and most recently by hurricanes Eta and Iota in November 2020, which hit the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) 15 days apart with maximum intensity. The economic, social, housing and infrastructure losses have been devastating for the region, as the two last hurricanes combined affected 56 municipalities nationwide and put three million people at risk. According to SINAPRED reports, damage caused by the hurricanes totalled 617 million 433 thousand dollars, and economic losses totalled 121 million dollars, for a total of 738 million 602 thousand dollars. Additionally, the housing conditions of families in the Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean Coast (RACCN) have historically been overcrowded and with homes built from insecure materials, which has led to the deprivation of indigenous communities of the right to live in safety, with dignity, and with the certainty of property rights. The RACCN population has historically presented high rates of general and extreme poverty. According to data from the 2014 Living Standard Measurement Survey (EMNV), about 18.95% of households in the Atlantic region live in general poverty. The average poverty line is defined at 17,011.47 NIO (about 477 USD) per year, according to the National Institute of Development Information (INIDE). It is estimated that 6% of households live in extreme poverty. This region also has significant barriers to accessing medical health services. Difficulties of access due to weak or non-existent transportation infrastructure to the communities, combined with the high costs of mobilization to communities, cause significant complications in accessing the nearest health posts or centres. Another big problem in the RACCN is household hygiene and sanitation conditions. Hurricanes exacerbate this problem by destroying latrines, contaminating hundreds of wells, and making access to hygiene items even more difficult.