UN joins relief effort after western Nicaragua hit by floods, landslides

25 October 2007

United Nations humanitarian agencies are helping with relief efforts in Nicaragua, where heavy rain over the past 12 days has brought flooding and landslides and devastated cropland and vital infrastructure across the country’s west.

United Nations humanitarian agencies are helping with relief efforts in Nicaragua, where heavy rain over the past 12 days has brought flooding and landslides and devastated cropland and vital infrastructure across the country’s west.

Eight people have drowned and two others remain missing since the floods began earlier this month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.

Almost 24,000 people across 11 departments of western Nicaragua have been affected by the unrelenting rains, and some 7,000 people have been evacuated to temporary shelters.

In Matagalpa department, where a series of low-intensity landslides damaged water sewage lines and led to sewage spilling into local rivers, cases of diarrhoea, respiratory infections and headaches have since been reported in some shelters.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) conducted a mission last weekend to affected areas to support the fight against possible epidemics and the mobilization of medical brigades. Some 500 blankets were also distributed in Matagalpa.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing technical assistance to the Nicaraguan Government, which declared a national emergency on Monday, as it coordinates the relief effort and tries to determine how much food is needed by people affected by the floods. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also assisting with aid.

Priority needs include chlorine treatment systems, the cleaning and protection of water sources, mattresses for displaced families as well as corn and bean seeds.

Up to 14 per cent of Nicaragua’s total bean crop has been inundated, while an estimated 4 per cent of the corn crop has also been hit.

OCHA reported that the devastation has been widespread. More than 1,900 houses have been damaged, including many that have been completely destroyed, while numerous roads, bridges, public buildings, churches, wells, latrines and sewage systems have also been damaged or rendered inoperable.

The floods and landslides have occurred at a particularly vulnerable time for Nicaragua, which is still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Felix at the start of last month.

 

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