Latin America Storms - Fact Sheet #4, (FY) 2021

Speeches Shim

November 27, 2020

FEWS NET estimates damage from the storms will exacerbate acute food insecurity for many households in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Government of Nicaragua assesses countrywide damages and economic losses from Eta and Iota total $738 million.

USAID/BHA provides funding to support several relief agencies delivering humanitarian assistance in Honduras, while JTF-Bravo rescues people from and transports assistance to isolated areas.

Situation At A Glance


Reported Deaths in Latin America due to Eta and Iota

5.2 million

Estimated People Affected by Eta and Iota in Central America


Estimated People in Official and Unofficial Emergency Shelters in Guatemala and Honduras


Estimated People Isolated From Humanitarian Access in Honduras



For the Latin America Storms Response in FY 2021

USAID/BHA $10,321,711
DoD $5,160,000
TOTAL $15,481,711


Storm-Related Impacts Expected to Increase Levels of Acute Food Insecurity in Central America

Food security conditions are expected to worsen in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua due to the effects of storms Eta and Iota, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). Crisis—IPC 3—outcomes are projected through May for the Dry Corridor of Guatemala and Honduras and storm-affected areas of Central America.1 FEWS NET expects deteriorated food security conditions in parts of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua due to significant loss of livelihoods, including loss of crops and livestock, from Eta. According to government estimates in mid-November, Eta damaged more than 494,200 acres of staple and cash crops, including banana, cacao, cardamom, cassava, and coffee, across the three countries. Rainfall also heavily impacted bean crops in Honduras and beans and maize in Guatemala; prices of both beans and maize are expected to increase in some markets, FEWS NET reports. While food security assessments to understand the additional impacts from Iota are still in progress, damages from Iota will further exacerbate and prolong the adverse effects of Eta and the secondary impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on food security conditions.

Damages and Economic Losses From Storms in Nicaragua Estimated at $738 Million, Including Major Losses in Housing, Infrastructure, and Livelihoods

According to a Government of Nicaragua (GoN) countrywide damage and needs assessment, nearly 3 million people in Nicaragua were exposed to hurricanes Eta and Iota. The storms damaged or destroyed more than 43,000 houses, as well as health facilities and schools, and damaged an estimated 98 percent of the road network, the UN reports. The GoN estimates the storms caused damages and economic losses valued at approximately $738 million; government authorities are still validating the figure with international institutions, but estimate that the total cost of losses and response expenditures will equal approximately 6 percent of Nicaragua's gross domestic product, according to the UN. The assessment revealed significant loss of livelihoods, including in the agriculture, fishing, and tourism sectors. The GoN continues response activities with some support from UN agencies and humanitarian partners, including delivery of food assistance, health services, and materials for roof repair; authorities also continue efforts to restore telecommunications, power, and water services in affected areas.

USAID/BHA Supports Several Humanitarian Agencies to Provide Multi-Sector Assistance in Honduras

Nearly 100,000 people remained in official collective shelters across Honduras as of November 25, according to the UN; however, the number of displaced individuals is likely significantly higher, as this figure does not account for those sheltering in unofficial community structures or with friends or family. Based on recent information from more than 40 shelters in 12 municipalities, most individuals in the shelters do not have sufficient access to potable water, 40 percent of the individuals are in need of hygiene items, and 54 percent do not have enough food, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports. Humanitarian agencies also report incidents of violence against children, gender-based violence (GBV), and family separation in shelters and communities in Cortés Department’s San Pedro Sula Municipality. Across the country, approximately 250,000 people have limited or no access to health services due to damage to health infrastructure. While assessments of Iota’s impacts remain ongoing, the Government of Honduras (GoH) recently reported that at least 850,400 people across the country were adversely affected by Iota, with significant impacts in the Sula Valley; relief agencies had previously estimated a total of 2.3 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance following Eta’s passage over the country.

Humanitarian agencies continue to respond to urgent needs in Honduras in coordination with the GoH. As of November 25, relief agencies conducting water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector programs have collectively delivered hygiene items and personal protective equipment to approximately 126,900 people and reached 21,900 people with WASH supplies and services, including the delivery of 40,000 liters of safe drinking water, according to the UN. Humanitarian organizations have also reached more than 26,300 people with protection activities, including mental health and psychosocial support to affected populations.

To address urgent humanitarian requirements in Honduras, USAID/BHA is supporting four non-governmental organizations (NGOs), two UN agencies, and an international organization to respond to provide multi-sector assistance in affected areas. In Atlántida, Colon, Gracias a Dios, and Yoro departments, some of the areas most heavily impacted by the storms, the UN World Food Program (WFP) is delivering immediate, emergency food assistance to 20,000 households. With USAID/BHA support, UNICEF plans to reach 24,000 people—including 14,000 children ages 5–17 years—in Atlántida, Cortés, and Yoro departments with child protection services and interventions to raise awareness of and build capacity of local government agencies to prevent violence against children and GBV. UNICEF and USAID/BHA partners ADRA, Global Communities, GOAL, and World Vision are also providing WASH assistance to improve populations’ access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation services, and personal hygiene items; delivering hygiene promotion inclusive of COVID-19 messaging; and providing disinfection and cleaning supplies for shelters. Meanwhile, with USAID/BHA funding, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is providing health services, including first aid, psychosocial support, and support to improve community-based surveillance for diseases, to affected communities in Honduras.

JTF-Bravo Delivers Emergency Food Assistance, Relief Supplies to Isolated Populations, Rescues Individuals Cut Off by Flooding

U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-Bravo) has been using its unique military capabilities in support of the USAID/BHA-led humanitarian response to transport emergency food assistance and relief supplies to people in need across Guatemala and Honduras, supporting host governments, USAID/BHA partners, and other relief actors to reach vulnerable populations isolated by the lingering effects of storms Eta and Iota. In Honduras, between November 23 and 26, JTF-Bravo transported nearly 37 metric tons (MT) of food commodities and relief supplies, such as emergency hygiene kits, to storm-affected areas, where humanitarian organizations distributed the supplies to people in need. In addition, JTF-Bravo completed several search and rescue missions in the country, rescuing 109 people who had been marooned by floodwaters for several days without assistance in San Pedro Sula on November 24, and 50 others from nearby Tegucigalpita city on November 26. Meanwhile, in Guatemala, JTF-B air crews transported more than 43 MT of food assistance and relief commodities between November 23 and 26 and evacuated several individuals in need of urgent medical assistance from isolated areas to Guatemala City. As floodwaters are receding and more roads are becoming passable, the JTF-B team departed Guatemala on November 27 after more than 20 days of hurricane relief efforts.


Immediately following Hurricane Eta’s landfall over Central America, USAID/BHA staff in the region began coordinating response activities with national authorities and USAID/BHA partners. On November 17, USAID activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)—supported by 40 personnel across seven countries—to assess damages, identify priority needs, and work with partners to provide assistance to affected populations, and a Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team (RMT) to support the DART. In response to the effects of Hurricane Eta, JTF-Bravo flew 24 missions, rescuing 187 people from isolated areas in Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama between November 6 and 13. DoD also provided air transport and logistics support to the Government of Guatemala (GoG) and the GoH for the delivery of emergency assistance, transporting nearly 47 MT of GoG- and GoH-provided emergency food assistance, hygiene items, and other commodities during the same period; additional DoD support in response to the effects of Hurricane Iota in Honduras is ongoing. Through a regional program, USAID/BHA is also supporting the local procurement emergency food items and provision of supplies and emergency relief items for affected populations in Belize, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

The IFRC is supporting national Red Cross societies across Central America to respond to immediate humanitarian needs resulting from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, and had reached more than 102,000 people with emergency assistance Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama as of November 23. In Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is distributing emergency supplies—including kitchen sets, mattresses, and hygiene items—to affected populations. UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs are coordinating to support populations in collective shelters with emergency food assistance, relief items, and other humanitarian assistance.


USAID/BHA supported the delivery approximately 100 MT of urgently needed Government of Colombia (GoC) relief supplies, including communications equipment, generators, food, medical supplies, and potable water, from Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá to San Andrés Island. In addition, USAID/BHA has established a humanitarian air bridge between San Andrés and Providencia islands, through which a commercial airline is transporting emergency relief supplies. USAID/BHA also provided 88 tool kits, including hammers, handsaws and screwdrivers, nearly 1 MT of nails, and 80,000 roof tiles to help remove debris and repair roofs on San Andrés. The GoC is also delivering food, tents, and safe drinking water to affected households in Providencia via boat.


With USAID/BHA funding, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is supporting 200 displaced households in Alta Verapaz Department with food assistance, as well as household items and hygiene kits, including items to prevent transmission of COVID-19. USAID/BHA partner Save the Children has also pivoted existing programming to provide emergency food assistance, household items, and emergency cash transfers to nearly 620 households in collective shelters. Meanwhile, DoD provided aerial imagery of stormaffected areas of Guatemala to support damage assessments, transported food rations and relief items on behalf of the host government and humanitarian organizations, and carried out search and rescue operations and medical evacuations in isolated communities. Additionally, with USAID/BHA support, IFRC is providing hygiene items, delivering hygiene promotion messaging, and supporting improved access to safe drinking water.

At least 14 relief organizations are conducting response activities across the country, and humanitarian partners had delivered 323,700 liters of safe drinking water to affected people as of November 24, the UN reports. To address needs in Guatemala’s shelters, where overcrowding and the risk of COVID-19 transmission remain a concern, IOM has initiated an Integrated Shelter Registration System to coordinate with local authorities to assess conditions and develop appropriate response plans.


With USAID/BHA funding, ADRA and World Vision are procuring blankets, hygiene items, and kitchen sets to distribute to individuals residing in collective shelters. WFP is delivering emergency food assistance to an initial 20,000 households, while several partners, including UNICEF, Global Communities, GOAL, and IFRC, are providing WASH support to people in shelters and affected communities. To meet immediate health needs, IFRC is providing health services, including first aid, psychosocial support, and support to improve community-based surveillance for diseases. UNICEF is also providing services to prevent GBV and violence against children and support other protection needs. In addition, USAID/BHA partner Global Communities, which has been implementing COVID-19 prevention and response activities in Honduras since July, is undertaking COVID-19 mitigation interventions in 59 shelters across Cortés Department. USAID/BHA partner GOAL is also providing technical assistance in emergency shelter management, as well as support for shelter repair.

The GoH has deployed more than 50,000 first response staff and volunteers to conduct search and rescue operations and provide immediate relief assistance to affected populations. WFP is coordinating with the GoH National Emergency Commission (COPECO) to deliver pre-positioned emergency food assistance to the most affected communities on the coast of Honduras. The UNICEF-led WASH Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian WASH activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—had reached approximately 21,900 people with WASH supplies and services as of November 25. Humanitarian organizations have also reached more than 26,300 people with protection activities as of the same date.


USAID/BHA is supporting UNICEF to provide emergency WASH services to approximately 13,500 people—including nearly 6,100 children—in heavily affected areas of the North Caribbean Autonomous Region and Jinotega and Nueva Segovia departments.

Following Hurricane Eta’s landfall, the GoN mobilized military personnel, fire brigades, and Nicaraguan Red Cross teams to evacuate populations, provide medical care, deliver emergency assistance, and remove debris from blocked transportation routes. As of November 23, GoN officials had also distributed approximately 100,000 sheets of zinc roofing material in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region to assist communities with emergency shelter. In the region’s Prinzapolka Municipality, the Nicaraguan Red Cross provided food assistance, hygiene kits, and a water treatment plant and deployed a team to provide psychosocial support to affected populations; the Nicaraguan Red Cross also provided a water treatment plant to nearby Waspam Municipality. Additionally, public heath brigades had reached 120,000 people in affected areas with medical assistance as of November 23, the UN reports.