• Crisis Severity ?
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  • Impact ?
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  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
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    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
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    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
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    Extreme constraints



Two category 4 storms hit Central America’s Caribbean coast in November, both making landfall in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. The hurricanes followed virtually identical paths across Central America and Mexico, affecting over 8 million people. High winds and heavy rains caused widespread flooding, displacements, and infrastructure damage. Hundreds of people have been killed as a result of flooding and landslides.?

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the busiest ever recorded with 30 named storms, and is the only season to have had two major hurricanes in November. The season officially ended on 30 November. By the end of November, national authorities and humanitarian organisations in all affected countries were starting to establish longer-term response and recovery operations. The humanitarian consequences of the hurricanes are likely to take years to overcome, however.?

Eta hit Guatemala on 5 November and Iota on 18 November – both as tropical storms – affecting northeastern regions the most; the departments of Alta Verapaz and Izabal were worst hit by both storms. The two storms have affected over 2.4 million people across the country, including 308,800 who are staying in emergency shelters. Urgent needs for affected people are shelter, WASH, health, food security, and protection. Psychosocial support for children in shelters is particularly needed. Flooding and landslides have damaged roads and cut off many communities from humanitarian assistance.?

Latest Developments


Hurricanes Eta and Iota have affected 6 million people and displaced 590,000 in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Millions remain in urgent need of shelter, health, food, and WASH assistance. Damages to agricultural assets and roads have caused livelihood and market disruptions. The hurricanes hit Central America during the peak of the agricultural labour season, when the majority of poor and very poor households earn most of their annual income. 216,000 hectares of crops were damaged in Honduras alone. 3.5 million people across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua are estimated to be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity, with an expected peak of 4 million in August 2021.The hurricanes have aggravated the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in the region and pre-existing vulnerabilities linked to chronic violence and poverty, which have driven migration in the past. A caravan of Hondurans was stopped at the border with Guatemala on 9 December.?

Over 1.3 million people (267,000 households) are affected by crop damage caused by the tropical storms Eta and Iota. Households who depend entirely on these crops to sustain themselves until the next harvest (September 2021) are most vulnerable to increased levels of food insecurity. The WFP estimate that most households are currently going hungry in affected communities. 69% of markets in affected areas have no food supplies.?




WASH/health: There are risks of water and vector-borne disease outbreaks in flooded areas because of stagnant water and lack of access to safe drinking water. There are reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in some shelters.?

Food security: Flooding caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota has completely destroyed coffee and cardamom plantations and affected other major crops such as rice, bananas, and corn. As a result, projections of the number of people facing acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above) for the period from November 2020–March 2021 are higher than what was initially estimated in October, increasing from 2.7 million to 3.7 million.?

Protection: Girls and young women in shelters are being left vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.?