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The Action Against Hunger team in the region is already on the ground conducting the first rapid needs assessment and designing the first emergency response.
“It continues to rain heavily in northern Guatemala, and we are extremely concerned about the risk of flooding and landslides in one of the poorest areas of the country,” explains Miguel García Arias, Country Director of Action Against Hunger, from Guatemala. “There are already more than 50 active shelters or evacuation centers where people who have lost their homes are arriving. We are concerned about basic water and sanitation needs at these points, more so in a COVID context where overcrowding can be fatal,” he explains.
“In departments like Alta Verapaz, in central Guatemala, there are dozens of damaged roads and bridges, making access for rescue or assistance work extremely difficult. In some communities, access is only possible by helicopter, although the water prevents them from landing. Basic assistance is being launched from the air,” explains Ana Lucia Juarez, Action Against Hunger’s communications officer from Guatemala City.
“We are prioritizing the supply of safe water and hygiene kits, including protection elements against COVID-19 such as masks and gloves. We must remember that this is one of the poorest areas in a region where even before the pandemic more than 5.3 million people needed humanitarian assistance [UN data],” explains Garcia.
Hurricane Eta (category 4 of 5) made landfall in Nicaragua on November 3. It is the 12th hurricane of this season in the Atlantic, which in 2020 is experiencing the most intense hurricane season since 2005.
Acción contra el Hambre has been working in Guatemala and Nicaragua since 1996 with a team of 70 people, with programs in nutrition, livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene, and disaster prevention.