In Nicaragua alone, 1.5 million people suffered from the devastating effects of hurricanes “Iota” and “Eta” in November 2020. Over the next six months, SWISSAID will be supporting families who were already living in extreme poverty before the disaster with an emergency aid project – and who are now struggling to survive. – translated with DeepL
The living conditions of poor smallholder families, who have suffered great damage to their homes as a result of the hurricanes, whose soil has become infertile due to flooding and whose harvests were almost entirely lost, are being improved. They are provided with temporary staple foods and are supported in resuming their own food production and regaining food security.
While in this country life is increasingly taking place indoors again and, due to the coronavirus, mainly at home, this possibility was literally swept off the roof for many people in Nicaragua: in November 2020, the country was hit by two devastating hurricanes. The extent of the destruction is still difficult to determine today. One thing is certain: The catastrophe worsens the living conditions of families who had previously lived in extreme poverty. Combined with the Covid19 pandemic, the consequences for the country and its population will be felt for several years to come.
Harvest destroyed - hunger threatens
SWISSAID works with more than 8,000 families in Nicaragua in a regionally concentrated and networked manner. At least 80 percent of them are affected to a greater or lesser extent by the hurricanes: Fences, stables and wells were destroyed. 50-70 percent of the corn crops have been lost. Cultivated rice and growing beans have usually even been completely destroyed. Cacao trees also suffered severe damage; they will only yield half as much as usual. Coffee was in bloom and bore its first fruits – now wind and rain have carried them away.
The food security of smallholder families is on a knife edge. Their harvest is not only the basis of what ends up on their plates every day. The money they earn by selling the surpluses at the market is also their only income. 90 percent of the corn and bean harvest in Nicaragua is produced by small farming families. In other words, there is a lack of food. Hunger is imminent.
Seeds for future food are missing
The loss of the harvest also means that no new seed is available to the smallholder families. One of these is the municipal seed banks, which supply the affected community members with seed. There is no secure access to seed next year. And the money to buy seeds from third parties is missing.
The heavy flooding has severely damaged the soil, the fertile layer has been removed. The smallholder families will need a lot of time to replenish the soil. They have their hands full repairing damage to houses, facilities and materials. Many of them live outside or in emergency shelters. There the health risk increases.
Emergency aid Nicaragua
Only who sows now, can also reap
With great support from local partners, SWISSAID helps where it is most needed. We provide material for roof constructions and help to rebuild houses. Families who have lost their entire harvest receive staple foods until the next harvest is due. They can dedicate themselves to agro-ecological work instead of having to fight for bare survival every day – and thus have the prospect of a next harvest.
Time is pressing: In June, it will be the dry season. If the seeds are not sown rapidily, the next harvest will be lost. That is why we provide seeds and help to patch up or build drip irrigation systems. So that in a few months the smallholder families will be able to provide for themselves and the food of their land again.