Hurricane Mitch was the most devastating natural disaster in Nicaragua’s history. An estimated 3,800 Nicaraguans lost their lives and 800,000—18% of the population—were left homeless.
Prior to Hurricane Mitch, Nicaragua was already among the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. In 1997 it was estimated that 47% of Nicaraguans lived below the poverty line. The hurricane exacerbated this situation. The future was bleak for the homeless families struggling to survive.
Relief organizations such as Food for the Hungry and Mercy Ships Nicaragua*, who already had an established presence in the coutry, were available to begin immediate relief efforts in tandem with other community and international organizations.
Response involved procuring and distributing food, clothing, medicine and medical supplies. They were also instrumental in the decontamination of drinking water wells that were compromised during the flooding as well as assisting displaced hurricane refugees.
Communities such as El Limonal and Villa Soberana, sprung up as families sought to rebuild their lives after loosing everything.
Although the staff of Food for the Hungry Nicaragua remain 'positioned' for relief work**, their emphasis has been on longer term developmental transformation of rural Nicaragua and working with the people of El Limonal specifically.
*Mercy Ships closed their Nicaragua land base in 2005. Mercy Ships continues to serve the people of Africa.
**This year’s category 5 Hurricane Felix and the multiple effects of two months of heavy rain have again required significant intervention.