Saturday, 22 October 2011

Flood Disaster in Nicaragua

   I am posting Jane (Juanita) Boyd's email in its entirety so you can see the extent of the problem in the Estelí region and particularly in the Miraflor Reserve where she does an enormous amount of work supporting the local communities. She has been working at ground level there for eight years. This email was passed to me from friends John and Brian both of whom have done volunteer work in the rural communities in Nicaragua.

Dear friends and supporters

Summary and weather situation (as best we know it)

We are launching an urgent appeal for Emergency Action from here in Esteli, Nicaragua, to ask for your financial help and assistance in raising some funds this week.
We are currently in Day 9 of a severe tropical depression that has found Esteli to be the worst hit region of this country. Many of you will have heard about the rains and storms that hit Mexico and Guatemala. That was storm 10/Hurricane Joda, storm 11 and we are experiencing storm 12-E/Irwin a slow moving depression now threatening to convert into a hurricane to top it all.
The most deaths and landslides are occurring in these regions here and in Salvador.

The city of Esteli has bared the brunt of the rains, floods peaking on Friday, but today and forecast tomorrow more severe rainfall is to follow. We have had 9 days of 24/7 rain.

The affected zone of Miraflor:
Miraflor Natural reserve is a high mountainous region, surrounded by the Esteli river, the Yali river, with dirt roads and steep landscapes. Within the danger area are over 33 communities, thousands of people, living in very impoverished conditions, susceptible to these most severe of weather phenomenons. The people are strong, but not well nutritioned, they find work but only when it's available, they sustain poor weather but rely on access to the outside for most healthcare and supplies. I have worked with these communities for nearly 8 years now, and am still shocked by some of the conditions in which many still live. The rainfall this last week has surpassed that of the terrible Hurricane Mitch of 1998, Many houses are better reinforced, roads always built up with stones by hand, but that's not everyone, and these rains have are passing the limitations of most.

Our role:
We administrate the eco-tourism programme of Miraflor, and also work 2-3 further social development projects within the reserve. Our responsibility for these people, especially those beyond most social programmes that reach many parts, is huge and I turn to the goodwill of our supporters and your solidarity to support our emergency action. 

Our/my work here is voluntary, no administration costs are taken from donated funds, nor would be taken. Cafe Luz y Luna works as a social enterprise, not a registered NGO, we can act quickly, in collaboration and all our regular social programmes are sustained from our business and tour activities as well as some valuable donations.

Current Situation:
The big rivers are breaking bridges, foot bridges are becoming damaged and impassable. All small streams and small rivers are torrents and impassable. The water table is too high, outside toilets are flooding into the open, flat areas are becoming impassable.

The crisis is as follows;
The buses have been unable to reach many routes in Miraflor. At least 8 communities are completely cut off, due to road damage (collapses) and landslides. They have no food left to sell in the villages. The rain and cold has led to several homes being damaged and thier families left at high risk, children and the elderly especially. The threat of further landslides is at red alert. Animals are dying, the biggest investment a family can have. Most importantly many  of the most impoverished families rely on a hand to mouth existence of working as farm workers daily, where they earn $2-$4 a day, if and when they work. There's been no work and they have no money to buy the food at the local shops, perhaps selling at inflated prices for it being so scarce.

The weather forecast is poor, at least another 10 days of rain, though we remain uncertain. We fear epidemics of illness to follow, through contaminated water in wells, springs, poor self-care of the weak, children and elderly especially, many of whom live alone with little ability to walk far.

Tomorrow I am returning up to Miraflor to help with the governing organization Foro Miraflor, the city council, Minsa/the health medical brigades, and due to the national crisis, funds are at a minimum. 

We, Cafe Luz y Luna have been asked to provide the following;

Rolls of Black plastic, nails, hammers > to cover roofs, and protect walls from the pouring streams of water from entering the houses
Sweaters and jackets > a surprisingly rare commodity despite the cool climate in the mountains, and most will be wet by now with no way to dry. Needed to assist in prevention of severe colds/flu and respiratory diseases.
Some hats for extra warmth
Pampers/nappies > Disposible nappies, usually plain cotton cloth variety are used but no chance of having any washed and dry. Especially for newborns and young toddlers, help avoid unnecssary water contamination
Baby milk > expensive and there's little milk production right now, necessary for the young
Blankets . a few dozen for those in shelters and those without in very impoverished housing
Wet weather gear for the local leaders.

Cafe Luz y Luna has already spent the spare funds we had for food deposits in other communities. 

  • Therefore I appeal to our dear friends and supporters to help just a little to fund these necessary goods.
  • We look only for 5-10 GBP or $10 per gift or more as you or your friends and associates can afford it.
We expect to help too with emergency free food and supplementary medical packages, like vitamins and oral rehydration packets, water filters where needed.
The government provides food at lower than cost prices but it's not free. We see the need to provide some free rations to the most affected and those evacuated families in the coming days. There's even a crisis for underwear !, for firewood, it's not dry anywhere, for dry bedding or mattresses in certain areas not otherwise attended. Other emergency materials are being provided by the council and government for now.

Tomorrow I will post photos of a damage report committee that returned today. But we are seeing heavy downpours tonight already worsening access and the situation.

On a personal level, I hugely appreciate your help and support. A full account of expenditure will be posted after these emergencies subside.
Any excess funds, will be maintained in a separate fund from donations, for emergency social needs in Miraflor maintained by Cafe Luz y Luna.
Opportunities of working with eco-stove projects/Give-a-stove a chimney, water filter projects, immediate housing needs are optional for this emergency fund, set up by our Friends in Ireland,  but supporters would be informed during the decision process.
We continue to work in many themes in Miraflor, including environmental iniatives to help with prevention of soil erosion, organic gardens fand food security programmes, protection of water sources and environ. education, with basic healthcare and gender issues workshops addressed, through our Mobile Library bus starting this December. Watch this space. Please check our website.

For those in the UK you can transfer to the following account.
Many friends are in the USA, Canada and Europe. We will set up a Paypal account or otherwise we can set up a coordination with friends in the USA who can transfer us funds, since Nicaragua also trades in US$$.

UK Bank Details

a/c 01840079

Thank you so much for your time.
A paypal account with details will be issued ASAP too, along with photos in the next 2 days.

Abrazos from Nicaragua


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