UPDATED Emergency Appeal: Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America

November 25, 2020

Appeal Code: 628M
This Appeal is an update to our Emergency Appeal, issued on November 9.


Two weeks after Hurricane Eta’s destruction, Hurricane Iota hit many of the same communities across Central America. Both storms made landfall as Category 4 major hurricanes, and Iota slammed into Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast just 15 miles south of where Eta struck. It brought renewed destruction to communities that were still struggling to start recovery after Eta. It also hit some locations that had been relatively unscathed during Eta, expanding the swath of destruction across the region.

In many ways, having two major disasters just two weeks apart has created a single, prolonged emergency. Communication networks and transportation infrastructure were damaged in both storms, so access to isolated communities remains a challenge. Of course, this humanitarian response is unfolding in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Families are living in makeshift shelters with little distancing and few hygiene protections in place. The risk of virus transmission is high among displaced families and humanitarian workers alike; getting protective equipment to affected areas is critically important.

As noted in the last appeal, CWS is responding in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Since the last appeal, the most significant geographic expansion of our response has been to the Carazo region of Nicaragua. The southernmost location of our response, Carazo was largely spared from Eta’s wrath. Hurricane Iota, however, severely impacted the area and left communities inaccessible for days because of flooding. Preliminary damage evaluations in the area indicate that 90% of the last harvest was lost in the flooding. Latrines, wells and water systems have been badly damaged. Undamaged wells have been contaminated by sludge or waste. There are urgent water, sanitation and hygiene needs in the area, including to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

CWS Response

We are currently in Phase I of our response, which is to meet emergency needs. This includes working with local partners in each country to distribute masks, hygiene supplies, food and cash assistance so that families can meet their most urgent needs. A detailed description of these activities can be found in the Nov. 9 Emergency Appeal; the Phase I response in Carazo is similar to what is unfolding in other locations.

Phase II will happen from January through June of 2021. It will focus on medium- and long-term recovery, including rebuilding livelihoods, replanting crops, repairing or reconstructing homes and rehabilitating water systems, as well as working on basic plans with the most affected communities in vulnerability and disaster risk reduction. We expect to have an Emergency Appeal with more details on Phase II in early-mid Decembers, as access and communications to all areas are restored and partner organizations gain better information from communities on the ground.

From the Nov. 9 appeal:

The CWS office for Central America and Mexico, based in Guatemala, is leading the CWS response to Hurricane Eta. We are currently focused on supporting the rapid response efforts of our partners in:

  • Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast (Waspam municipality)
  • Coban, Alta Verapaz and Izabal in Guatemala’s Morales and Puerto Barrios municipalities
  • Honduras’s Santa Barbara Department and likely the nearby city of San Pedro Sula

In Nicaragua, our response will focus on urgent relief items for four shelters and six communities. This includes food and hygiene kits as well as recreational activities for children in the shelters. Each of the 1,000 food kits–which are intended as a stop-gap measure until the government is able to begin food support–will include beans, sugar, rice, flour, oil, salt, oatmeal and coffee. When potable water is not available, food kits will include powdered milk. Each of the 1,000 hygiene kits will include laundry soap, hand/dish soap, bleach and toilet paper. Each of the 626 families in the four shelters will also receive purified water, face masks, blankets, buckets, plastic sheets, and eggs and beef (the preferred protein sources for families in the area).

In Honduras, we are in the initial stages of assessing the most critical needs and establishing a response plan. Communication to hard-hit communities has been a challenge, but we hope to have more information in the coming days.

In Guatemala, we are providing a rapid response grant to Colectivo Artesanas to offer immediate support to 1,000 people. The funds will be used to purchase food, locally-assembled hygiene kits and Covid-19 protection for families.

Regionally, we are launching a flash campaign to encourage and raise awareness through all of our Central American networks and social media to ensure that people with disabilities and older adults are included and active participants in response and recovery efforts.


The Phase I Budget for initial response is $75,000.

We expect the Phase II Budget, which will be announced in December, to be significantly larger.

How to Help

Donations can be made online at cwsglobal.org/hurricanes-2020 or by mailing a check to Church World Service (P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515). Please designate it to Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

For more information, please contact media@cwsglobal.org.