Torrential rains flood Central America
FOLLOWING HOT on the heels of Hurricane Felix, torrential rains caused widespread devastation in Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador in October. At least 50 people w e re killed and thousands evacuated amid flooding and mudslides. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega declared a state of national emergency, describing the damage caused by the rains and Hurricane Felix as “incalculable”.
The United Nations says some 24,000 people have been affected by October’s flooding in 177 communities in Nicaragua. Roads, bridges, houses and crops have been damaged, and water supplies contaminated. The worst-hit departments are Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Estelí, Léon and Chinandega, according to the UN. The city of Matagalpa has also experienced extensive flooding after the River Grande overflowed its banks, sweeping away two neighbourhoods .
In a live phone conversation with Ortega in late October, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proposed the creation of a “Plan Sandino” within the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) which would bring relief and longer-term rehabilitation to are a s devastated by recent disasters. Chavez said he hoped the plan would include reconstruction of roads and housing and the rehabilitation of agricultural zones, as well as emergency food aid.
A U.N.-backed initiative has been launched to improve the sharing of information on emergencies between humanitarian organisations. Those working on disaster response and relief in Latin America and the Caribbean can publish information about their activities on a new Spanish-language website called Redhum. Six information assistants have been posted in national disaster management authorities in Central America to build an information network, and this will be extended to the rest of the region in 2008.
Redhum’s web address is: http://www.redhum.org