Central America has been severely affected by a record-breaking hurricane season, with the passage of Category 4 Hurricane Eta across the region at a speed of 225 km/h during early November 2020, followed by Category 5 Hurricane Iota about two weeks later with the strongest winds (260 km/h) experienced in 127 years. The rains, strong winds, flash flooding and storm surges triggered by the Hurricanes have affected about 5 million people across Central America and Mexico, an area already hit by years of erratic weather patterns and more recently by the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the results of which are potentially catastrophic. The Government of Nicaragua has indicated that preliminary estimates of overall damages and losses due to the Hurricanes amount to more than USD 742 million (6.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product).
So far, about 40 percent of those affected are from Nicaragua – 3 million people mainly from the indigenous territories of the autonomous region of the North Caribbean Coast, Triángulo Minero, Matagalpa, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia, Rivas and Carazo, where artisanal fishing, forestry and agriculture have been significantly impacted. About 44 percent (19) of indigenous territories in the country were exposed to both hurricanes with a population of approximately 130 000 people.
The Hurricanes hit at the start of the lean season when food stocks are already traditionally low and have now been depleted. Moreover, reduced harvests are expected and livestock production (cattle, pigs and poultry) has been severely affected, with significant losses reported particularly in the autonomous region of the North Caribbean Coast.