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Emergency Appeal: Hurricane Eta in Central America

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November 9, 2020

Appeal Code: 628M

This Appeal is an update to our Situation Report, issued on November 6.


Hurricane Eta hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 major hurricane on Tuesday, November 3. The storm went on to pound Honduras and Guatemala with torrential rain, causing landslides and widespread flooding. Rain continued for several days, stalling rescue operations and exacerbating the situation of the affected population and challenging the responders. Logistics and access to communities hit by the storm and landslides remain top concerns, given widespread damage to roads and infrastructure from flooding. On Friday, November 6, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said that the storm's death toll in Guatemala was about 150 people, reports Al Jazeera. According to OCHA there are 130,000 affected people in Nicaragua; 1.8 million affected and 38 dead in Honduras; and 307,000 affected in Guatemala.

The Covid-19 pandemic further complicates response planning. Tens of thousands of people are living in shelters, where social distancing and proper hygiene procedures can be a challenge. Considerations for masks and social distancing must be taken into account in relief efforts.


For years, CWS and Growing Hope Globally have supported the food security and community development work of Accion Medica Cristiana, or AMC, in Nicaragua's North Atlantic Autonomous Region, in Waspam municipality. This program is named after the Rio Coco, which forms the border between Nicaragua and Honduras and is the lifeline of the indigenous and mestizo rural communities here. Together, we help mothers and young children improve their nutrition, facilitate access to health services, support farmers as they sell their harvests, help families diversify their diets and share information to prevent gender-based violence.

AMC reports that Hurricane Eta directly impacted 86% of the population in the Waspam municipality, where this program takes place. There are nearly 500 now living in temporary shelters in schools, churches and houses in Waspam alone. More than 5,500 houses were damaged along with 128 community wells and nearly 3,000 latrines. Nearly 27,000 acres of crops were damaged or destroyed.


In a similar program, CWS and Growing Hope Globally partner with the Mennonite Social Action Commission (known as CASM for their acronym in Spanish) in Honduras's Santa Barbara Department. We focus on food security, climate resilient farming, clean water advocacy, children's rights and reducing domestic violence.

CASM reports that Hurricane Eta hit the communities in the CWS-supported program hard. Crops were destroyed, and houses, roads and water systems were damaged. Communication to the area is still very difficult in the wake of the storm.


Colectivo Artesanas is a Guatemalan member of Plataforma NNAPES, the CWS-supported regional coalition of organizations who support children and families with incarcerated parents. They work with families in Coban, Alta Verapaz and Izabal in Guatemala. These communities are hard to reach and have been particularly affected by Covid-19. Hurricane Eta hit the region, exacerbating existing challenges. The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala reported impacts in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Chiquimula, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jalapa, Peten, Quiche and Zacapa. The reports count more than 240,000 people affected, around 61,000 evacuated, more than 7,000 sheltered, 27 dead and 108 reported missing. There is uncalculated damage to homes, infrastructure and livelihoods.

CWS Response

The CWS office for Central America and Mexico, based in Guatemala, is leading the CWS response to Hurricane Eta. We are currently focused on supporting the rapid response efforts of our partners in:

  • Nicaragua's Atlantic coast (Waspam municipality)
  • Coban, Alta Verapaz and Izabal in Guatemala's Morales and Puerto Barrios municipalities
  • Honduras's Santa Barbara Department and likely the nearby city of San Pedro Sula

In Nicaragua, our response will focus on urgent relief items for four shelters and six communities. This includes food and hygiene kits as well as recreational activities for children in the shelters. Each of the 1,000 food kits--which are intended as a stop-gap measure until the government is able to begin food support--will include beans, sugar, rice, flour, oil, salt, oatmeal and coffee. When potable water is not available, food kits will include powdered milk. Each of the 1,000 hygiene kits will include laundry soap, hand/dish soap, bleach and toilet paper. Each of the 626 families in the four shelters will also receive purified water, face masks, blankets, buckets, plastic sheets, and eggs and beef (the preferred protein sources for families in the area).

In Honduras, we are in the initial stages of assessing the most critical needs and establishing a response plan. Communication to hard-hit communities has been a challenge, but we hope to have more information in the coming days.

In Guatemala, we are providing a rapid response grant to Colectivo Artesanas to offer immediate support to 1,000 people. The funds will be used to purchase food, locally-assembled hygiene kits and Covid-19 protection for families.

Regionally, we are launching a flash campaign to encourage and raise awareness through all of our Central American networks and social media to ensure that people with disabilities and older adults are included and active participants in response and recovery efforts.


The budget for the initial response phase is $75,000:

  • $47,000 in Nicaragua
  • $22,000 in Honduras
  • $6,000 in Guatemala

We anticipate issuing an appeal for additional funding in 30-45 days for Phase 2: rehabilitation and recovery.

How to Help

Donations can be made online at or by mailing a check to Church World Service (P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515). Please designate it to Hurricane Eta.

For more information, please contact