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Flood-ravaged Central America struggles to cope

A significant number of properties have been destroyed
A significant number of properties have been destroyed

Sana Ahmed, staff writer

November 3, 2011 — Torrential rains, flooding and mudslides have devastated parts of Central America.

Experts say children need psychological rehabilitation
Experts say children need psychological rehabilitation

It was in October, when Tropical Depression 12-E swept through much of Central America. However, Tropical Depression 12-E wasn’t the only system that battered the region. There were Hurricanes Rena and Jova, as well. What made conditions worse was that Tropical Depression 12-E lingered for five to seven days, causing much destruction to property and crops.

Now, many people’s livelihoods have been destroyed and much of the population in rural as well as urban areas is struggling to cope. Countries that were mainly affected are Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Costa Rica and Honduras have also been affected.

“The situation right now on the ground is of great difficulty,” says Marian de Vries, Manager Americas Program of Oxfam Canada. “There are still municipalities that are without communication. Many houses have been flooded or totally destroyed.”

Crops and livestock have also been damaged
Crops and livestock have also been damaged

Now authorities are worried about those people who are internally displaced. A few complications have made matters worse. According to de Vries, many wells have been contaminated, and as a result, clean drinking water is becoming scarce.

“A lot of the aqua duct system have been damaged or contaminated. Latrines have been destroyed, roads have been washed out. There’s a significant loss of the crops. For instance, in Guatemala, the ministry of agriculture estimates the damage to be worth 1.3 million dollars. That has impacted on people’s food security,” she adds.

There are both urban and rural areas that are suffering from the after-effects of the floods. But the infrastructure in rural areas has a higher level of vulnerability.

The United Nations has launched an appeal for Nicaragua and El Salvador. The losses run in the millions. Local as well as international NGOs are trying to respond. Hygiene kits have been provided to internally displaced people. People are in need of small household articles, medication and food aid. As well, sanitation work is being done to de-contaminate wells.

More importantly, psychological support is also needed for young children who have had to go through trauma after the disaster, adds de Vries. Organizations are providing post-trauma support to those who were most adversely affected.

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