• Crisis Severity ?
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    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
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    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    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 (RACCN) of Nicaragua. Hurricane Eta hit the city of Puerto Cabezas on 3 November and Hurricane Iota made landfall just 25km south of the city on 17 November.

The hurricanes followed virtually identical paths across Central America and Mexico, affecting over 8 million people. Across the region, high winds and heavy rains caused widespread flooding, landslides, displacements, and infrastructure damage. Hundreds of people have been killed.?

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.?

In Nicaragua, the two hurricanes affected over 1.8 million people, destroyed or damaged 43,000 houses, and killed at least 21 people. The RACCN is the worst-hit region and home to affected indigenous Miskito and Mayagna communities, who are among the most vulnerable communities in the country. The department is an autonomous region of Nicaragua and there are tensions between the Miskito and Mayagna communities in the region and the Nicaraguan government, which relate to land rights and natural resource exploitation on indigenous land. The northern departments of Jinotega and Matagalpa also experienced heavy rainfall, resulting in flooding and landslides.?

Urgent needs for the affected population are shelter, food, WASH, and health. Needs are aggravated by pre-existing vulnerabilities including poor basic infrastructure and limited access to basic services. The remoteness of the affected communities has restricted response efforts and several Nicaraguan NGOs have also reported that the government has obstructed aid efforts. Access to aid is particularly challenging for the Miskito and Mayagna communities compared to other affected areas.?

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.?




Shelter: 43,000 houses damaged or destroyed.?

WASH: 53,000 people with no access to drinking water.?

Food security and livelihoods: Livelihood disruptions and extensive damage to farmland and markets are likely to increase levels of food insecurity in the country.?

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