MANAGUA, NICARAGUA — Oxfam International will help more than 30,000 people affected by Hurricane Felix, which hit northeastern Nicaragua last week. Three assessment teams are already in the region to evaluate the damage.
The emergency response will center on remote communities around the River Coco, Bilwi, Sasha and Siuna areas. These areas are difficult to access and are mostly inhabited by indigenous Mayagnas and Misquitos Indians.
Teams arriving from Madrid this week will install three water tanks and immediately begin to distribute clean water to10,000 people daily.
"We are going into areas which are isolated and very difficult to reach," said Martha Lorena Mora the coordinator of the Oxfam International humanitarian team in Nicaragua. "It is clear that these communities have suffered a devastating impact."
The operation will be carried out in two phases. The first will be an emergency response, providing the basic necessities for the population, including water and sanitation (cleaning wells and treating water). During the second phase, Oxfam will develop a rehabilitation programme with the emphasis on food security.
Last week's heavy rains destroyed agricultural produce and contaminated wells. The loss of crops such as rice and maize means that communities will need to find alternative food supplies for the next few months.
"We will have to focus on providing the basics for the population until the end of the year. But we must also work to rehabilitate people's production capacity. These people need to grow crops again to be able to get back on track," said German Quezada, humanitarian officer for Oxfam in Nicaragua.
According to the latest information, nearly one hundred people have died and more than 100,000 people have been affected by the hurricane. This number is expected to rise over the next few days. This is the first time in history that two category five hurricanes (Dean and Felix) have hit the Atlantic coast in the same year.
In its humanitarian response, Oxfam is working with local organisations, and coordinating with the National Disaster Prevention and Response System (SINAPRED) under Nicaragua's Coordinator for Risk Prevention.