Latin America Storms - Fact Sheet #7 (FY) 2021

Speeches Shim

December 08, 2020

The DART and USAID/BHA personnel supporting the DART continue to assess humanitarian conditions and coordinate response activities in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Humanitarian agencies provide health and WASH support to storm-affected people in Guatemala.

DoD transports GoC heavy duty equipment to Providencia to support debris clearance efforts, completing the final DoD mission in support of the humanitarian response to storms Eta and Iota.

Situation At A Glance


Reported Deaths in Latin America due to Eta and Iota

7.3 million

Estimated People Affected in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua


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


Estimated Houses Damaged or Destroyed in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua



For the Latin America Storms Response in FY 2021

USAID/BHA $23,846,132
DoD $7,010,000
TOTAL $30,856,132


USAID/BHA Personnel Continue to Assess Needs in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua

Between December 3 and 5, USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) personnel traveled to storm-affected municipalities in Guatemala’s Alta Verapaz and Izabal departments to meet with local authorities and relief agencies and assess needs. Authorities in San Cristobal Municipality, Alta Verapaz, report that many displaced households have returned to their houses or are going to their houses during the day to clean debris from the storms. Populations in San Cristobal and Cobán municipalities have experienced significant loss of crops—grown for consumption and income generation—due to the storms. Broadly, response actors highlighted needs for water system rehabilitation, housing repairs, food assistance, and livelihood restoration across the three areas of Alta Verapaz and Izabal visited by the DART. The Government of Guatemala (GoG) National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) continues to conduct assessments in affected areas of the country, and has identified shelter, health, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as primary response sectors to support the 1.7 million people estimated to be adversely affected by the storms in the country, according to the UN.

Members of the DART also traveled to storm-affected areas of Honduras—including parts of Atlántida, Cortés, and Santa Barbara departments—between December 1 and 3 to assess humanitarian conditions. In Cortés’ La Lima Municipality, while floodwaters continue to recede, some houses remained flooded in low-lying areas, with hundreds of households continuing to shelter in official evacuation centers and informal shelters. The DART observed road clearance and debris removal efforts, noting main roads were accessible and most shops in the local market were open and functioning. Staff also noted ongoing Government of Honduras (GoH)-led debris clearance activities and municipal-level rehabilitation activities in Santa Barbara’s Petoa Municipality. Food, household items, hygiene kits, shelter repair materials, and WASH support remain priority needs among affected populations in Honduras communities visited by the DART. Municipal authorities also noted concerns about damaged water supply networks and the loss of livelihoods among households, many of whom had already suffered loss of income and livelihoods due to the socioeconomic impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the week of November 30, DART staff continued to conduct assessments of storm-affected areas in Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, as well as the northern departments of Jinotega, Matagalpa, and Nueva Segovia. Hurricanes Eta and Iota have particularly exacerbated humanitarian needs among indigenous coastal communities who rely on fishing and subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. DART personnel observed significant crop damage in Jinotega, Matagalpa, and Nueva Segovia, resulting in food losses and reduced livelihoods opportunities for wage laborers; the staff noted that food and WASH assistance remain primary humanitarian needs.

Health Agencies Respond to Disease Risks in Guatemala Shelters

The spread of COVID-19 remains a serious risk in collective shelters in Guatemala due to overcrowding, insufficient space to allow physical distancing measures, and poor WASH conditions, the UN reports. As of December 4, Alta Verapaz had the largest concentration of collective shelters still hosting storm-affected individuals, with approximately 62,400 people sheltering in 139 official sites. Health agencies report cases of COVID-19 among individuals in shelters in Alta Verapaz and Izabal, as well as acute respiratory infections, foodborne illnesses, and other ailments, according to the UN. To improve health conditions in shelters and affected communities, humanitarian agencies have delivered emergency hygiene items and food assistance, provided psychosocial support activities, conducted surveillance for COVID-19 and other diseases, and disseminated messaging on proper hygiene practices. Relief organizations are also supporting GoG authorities to improve access to health services that was disrupted by the storms, including through the provision of tents and WASH materials to health facilities. USAID/BHA partners Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are providing hygiene items to affected households and delivering hygiene messaging to support efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

U.S. Army Vessel Delivers Equipment to Storm-Affected Islands

On December 5, DoD completed its final mission in support of the humanitarian response to storms Eta and Iota, delivering 81.6 metric tons (MT) of Government of Colombia (GoC)-provided heavy equipment from Colombia’s mainland to the country’s Providencia Island on a U.S. Army vessel; the vessel previously transported an initial shipment of heavy machinery to the island on December 1. The equipment—including utility vehicles and other heavy machinery—will enable the GoC National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) to continue clearing debris and begin early recovery efforts. As of December 5, more than 10 humanitarian organizations were supporting the response in San Andrés and Providencia, along with the Colombian Red Cross, UNGRD and other government agencies, and the UN Development Program, which is focusing on damage assessments and infrastructure repair plans, the UN reports.


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 DART—supported at its height 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 Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala and Honduras, the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-B) rapidly mobilized to rescue people from isolated areas and evacuate people in need of medical assistance. JTF-B also supported USAID/BHA-validated requests for unique DoD capabilities by conducting aerial damage assessments and transporting food rations and relief items on behalf of host governments and humanitarian organizations; from November 6 to December 2, JTF-B transported a total 257 MT of humanitarian cargo, as well as humanitarian response personnel, in the two countries. Additionally, through a regional mechanism, USAID/BHA is supporting the local procurement of 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 to respond to immediate humanitarian needs resulting from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, and had reached more than 102,000 people with emergency assistance in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama as of November 23. UN agencies and humanitarian non-governmental organizations are coordinating to support populations in collective shelters with emergency food assistance, relief items, and other humanitarian assistance, as well as providing life-saving assistance to communities isolated by flooding. As of December 4, nearly 60 organizations reported implementing more than 1,400 multi-sector humanitarian activities across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, according to the UN.


USAID/BHA provided immediate funding to the American Red Cross to support the distribution of urgently needed relief commodities on San Andrés and Providencia. In late November, USAID/BHA also supported the delivery of approximately 100 MT of GoC relief supplies, including communications equipment, generators, food, medical supplies, and potable water, from Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá to San Andrés. In addition, USAID/BHA has established a humanitarian air bridge between San Andrés and Providencia islands, through which a commercial airline had completed 29 flights transporting emergency relief supplies as of December 8. 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. Between December 1 and 5, a DoD vessel also transported 196.8 MT of GoC-provided heavy duty equipment from Colombia’s Cartagena city to Providencia to assist with GoC-implemented debris clean up and initial early recovery efforts.

The GoC has delivered food, tents, critical household items, and safe drinking water to affected households in Providencia via boat, and the Colombian Red Cross provided a water treatment unit that can process 175,000 liters of water per day, sufficient to cover all water needs on the island. The UNGRD also recently allocated nearly $600,000 to support local authorities’ relief efforts to rebuild houses and repair damaged WASH infrastructure on the affected islands.


With USAID/BHA funding, CRS is providing food assistance and hygiene kits with items to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to affected households in Alta Verapaz and Izabal departments. CRS is also targeting 11,150 storm-affected individuals with multipurpose cash assistance, WASH support, and shelter assistance in the two heavily affected departments. USAID/BHA partner Save the Children Federation (SCF) is providing multipurpose cash assistance to households in Quiché Department for the purchase of food and WASH items and distributing hygiene kits, while Project Concern International (PCI) is providing multipurpose cash assistance for the purchase of food, as well as relief commodities to improve shelter and WASH conditions, to households in Huehuetenango Department. Additionally, with USAID/BHA support, IFRC is providing hygiene items, delivering hygiene promotion messaging, and supporting improved access to safe drinking water.

The GoG, led by CONRED, had delivered nearly 1,340 MT of relief commodities and food assistance across the country as of December 4. The UN deployed a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to assist with response coordination and information management, focused on Alta Verapaz and Izabal. At least 29 relief organizations are conducting response activities across the country, and humanitarian partners had delivered more than 324,800 liters of safe drinking water to affected people as of December 7, the UN reports. To address needs in Guatemala’s shelters, where overcrowding and the risk of COVID-19 transmission remain a concern, the International Organization for Migration 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 distributing blankets, hygiene items, and kitchen sets to individuals residing in collective shelters. USAID/BHA partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) is delivering emergency food assistance to an initial 20,000 households, while several partners, including the UN Children’s Fund (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 technical assistance for community-based surveillance for diseases. UNICEF is also providing services to prevent gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children, as well as to meet other protection needs. In addition, 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. USAID/BHA partner GOAL is also providing technical assistance in emergency shelter management, as well as support for shelter repair.

The GoH deployed more than 50,000 first response staff and volunteers to conduct search and rescue operations and provide immediate relief assistance to affected populations, and COPECO worked with WFP to deliver pre-positioned emergency food assistance to the most affected communities on the coast of Honduras. An UNDAC team in Honduras is supporting coordination among various international relief actors, with assistance from the USAID/BHA-supported Americas Support Team, a group of urban search and rescue technical advisors from the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department. At least 29 different humanitarian organizations are conducting multi-sector response activities across the country and had reached nearly 337,700 people with WASH assistance and more than 257,700 people with food security and nutrition assistance as of December 2, according to the UN.


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 Coast Autonomous Region and Jinotega and Nueva Segovia departments. In addition, USAID/BHA is supporting UNICEF to reach 34,000 people in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region’s Prinzapolka, Puerto Cabezas, and Waspam municipalities with emergency and early recovery WASH assistance, as well as protection services—including psychosocial support, child-friendly spaces, and technical assistance to local authorities to address GBV risks—aimed to reach 13,000 people.

Following Hurricane Eta’s landfall, the Government of Nicaragua (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 27, the GoN had distributed nearly 350,600 sheets of zinc roofing material in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region to assist communities with emergency shelter. In Prinzapolka, 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. Additionally, public health brigades had reached 120,000 people in affected areas with medical assistance as of November 23, the UN reports.