Nicaragua

Physical and emotional support following Nicaraguan earthquake

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Forced to live in unstable and badly-built houses, it is the poorest people in the municipalities of Nagarote and Matea in west Nicaragua who have suffered the effects of a series of earthquakes the most.

House-building techniques that use mud and wood come from ancient building methods but were unable to withstand the 6.2 earthquake on April 10 and the three aftershocks, said Rosa Maria Matamoros development coordinator of ACT member Centro Intereclesial de Estudios Teológicos y Sociales (CIEETS). It is a direct result of poverty, she said.

Along with the physical damage, the series of quakes have left people feeling very nervous, she said.

“It was strong. People said it was very scary. And now people tell me they are very nervous because although this is a seismic area, it’s been a long time since we’ve felt anything as strong.

“The government has a very good way of organising people from the community so there are some structures in place. Local organisations were the first to give response to the affected people. ACT is part of the coordinated response.”

Official reports say that 1853 families are affected, of a total population of 24,025 people. Nearly 5000 houses damaged, nearly 3000 totally damaged. Just over 400 families are living in temporary shelters.

ACT members CIEETS, the Moravian Church and CEPAD this week received US$60,000 from ACT’s rapid response fund (RRF) for basic household relief and to offer psychosocial support to people upset by both the shock of the quakes and the loss of property.

In total, 300 families – some 1800 people – will get relief packages containing food for 15 days - rice, beans, sugar, cereal, oil, salt – as well as chlorine, sanitary napkins and soap. The chlorine is to support hygiene efforts to keep malaria-carrying mosquitos at bay in the in the temperatures of up to 33 degrees Centigrade. “Mosquitos can give malaria this is directly related to hygiene. It’s a risk to the weather and the local practices – if people are not used to in the shelters do not take care of the cleaning, it can contribute to this.”

The government response to the earthquake has not been adequate, she said.

Moreover, funding will help train 90 people in basic psychosocial techniques, a move aimed at providing group therapy to 500 people to overcome their stress. The two trainers had only recently completed training by ACT member the Church of Sweden.

“The rebuilding is going slowly so people still are in the temporary shelters. Others have gone to live with families who have enough space to take them while the situation comes back to normality.”