International and local development organisations, including church agencies, are distributing emergency food aid, bottled water and hygiene kits to thousands of Honduran families who have been forced to flee their homes after nearly three weeks of torrential rain.
The country has declared a state of emergency after 17 of the country’s 18 provinces were flooded. There are many communities that can only be reached by boat.
Thanks to well-organised evacuations the death toll is relatively low, with 33 people known to have died.
Over the next few weeks, our partners are hoping to reach almost 28,000 people in the worst-affected areas.
“This is the worst flooding Honduras has experienced since Hurricane Mitch ten years ago,” explains Christian Aid’s emergencies officer for Central America, Erwin Garzona. “Mitch in 1998 also caused severe crop losses and widespread loss of life.”
He added: “The death toll from the recent flooding is not as high, but the impact will be felt for months to come. It will be worse than Hurricane Felix in 2007 or Hurricane Bertha in 2004, but there has been little media coverage, partly because this situation is caused by continuous heavy rainfall, rather than a dramatic hurricane strike.”
Between 45 and 50 per cent of basic food crops have been lost meaning that there will be severe food shortages for at least four months before beans and maize can be harvested again. Other crops like rice will take six to seven months to harvest, and plantains and yucca take a year. Cash crops like Africa palm, cocoa and coffee have also been destroyed.
Christian Aid, the UK-based international development NGO supported by the British churches, has been funding disaster risk reduction work in Honduras for several years, helping communities prepare for the annual storms, floods and landslides.
This has included helping villages set up early warning systems, evacuation procedures and emergency shelter plans.
Development partners have also helped communities build sturdy, high-level bridges, watertight metal granaries to store food safely, and raised chicken coops to keep hens safe from floodwaters, Christian Aid explains.