In only four hours two years ago, Hurricane Felix destroyed 30,000 homes and leveled over 1,100 square miles of rainforest on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Heavy rainfall in the following week flooded an additional 5,000 homes and destroyed 90% of the rice harvest. That was then. Today, thanks to the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), families are back in their homes, a healthy crop is being harvested, and new programs have begun to improve community life beyond what it was before Felix struck.
Following Hurricane Felix, CRWRC responded quickly to meet immediate needs. Through its account at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and through its partnership with the Nicaraguan organization, Accion Medica Cristian, CRWRC was able to purchase and distribute:
- 258 metric tones of rice, beans, and cooking oil
- 2,840 one hundred pound sacks of seed for 3,100 families
- hammers, nails, and roofing materials to repair 1,450 homes
"Considering the fact that most of these materials had to travel 750 kilometers of rough gravel roads, then transferred to boats and distributed to 50 isolated villages along the river, this is amazing!" said CRWRC-Nicaragua staff member, Mark VanderWees. "We were also able to work closely with the farmers in the area to plant 20,000 fruit trees, start community seed banks, and improving seasonal planting methods. I am in awe of how God was able to use us!"
This response program to Hurricane Felix is now complete, but CRWRC is committed to working in the area. The next phase of programming will include encouraging farmers to use natural, locally-available resources to improve their crop production. This will be done through a network of six community-based "agriculture technology transfer centers" in strategic areas along the river. Each center will partner with sixty farmers from its surrounding community. The farmers will participate in trials at the center where different different methods and improved crop varieties will be tested. The farmers will then be able to replicate successful technology on their own land.
"In a sense, the centers area the missing link between the traditional research institution and the farmer," concluded VanderWees.