Hondurans face many months of struggle after deadly floods, UN aid wing says

Honduran families have been forced to take shelter in temporary refuges due to severe flooding

18 November 2008 – The basic living conditions for more than 310,000 Hondurans will remain precarious for months as a result of the deadly floods that have engulfed the Central American country, and a lack of support so far from donors is slowing the efforts of aid workers to provide relief, the United Nations humanitarian wing warned today.

The damage to livelihoods, farmland and infrastructure across Honduras is so severe – 17 of the country’s 18 departments are affected – that everyday life will stay precarious “for several months,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 60 people in Honduras and 17 in neighbouring Guatemala were killed in the floods that have followed many days of heavy rain over the past month, part of Tropical Storm Paloma and a separate tropical depression. Authorities are now on alert for landslides and mudslides.

OCHA reported that crops for the upcoming harvest were lost, large swathes of agricultural land were damaged and many water systems have been either contaminated or destroyed. In southern Honduras, at least 1,100 homes have been flooded.

Yet only 10 per cent of the $17 million requested earlier this month by UN agencies and their non-governmental organization (NGO) partners in a flash appeal has been received so far, and the amount committed includes a $1.5 million allocation from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

OCHA said the lack of funds is slowing down the humanitarian response from UN agencies, which include the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNICEF is currently providing cleaning equipment and materials to families that sheltered in school buildings so that they can leave the premises clean and the buildings can be refurbished and repaired to be used as classrooms again.

About 110,000 children are estimated to need psycho-social support and UNICEF has also developed a plan to restore safe water to areas worst affected by the floods.

WFP said it urgently needs more than 2,000 tons of food to start recovery activities, while WHO is working with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to buy medicines and necessary medical items to deal with possible disease outbreaks.

WHO is also assisting the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to procure medicine and equipment for use in water disinfection and the cleaning of wells.

In addition, UN agencies are active in Guatemala, distributing hygiene kits, delivering food for nearly 30,000 people and helping with improving water and sanitation.


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