Canada supports flood victims in Central America

November 4, 2011

Today, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced that Canada will provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by flooding in Central America. Over recent months, flooding in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua has affected almost two million people.

"The devastating floods in Central America continue to threaten the health and safety of those affected," said Minister Oda. "The people of Central America face a serious humanitarian crisis and Canada is contributing to help those in need."

Since the first week of October, large parts of Central America have experienced torrential rains, leading to severe flooding and landslides in several countries. In the most severely affected countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, the total affected population currently stands at approximately 1.9 million. All four of these countries have made appeals for international assistance.

The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) expressed her sympathies, "Canada has a strong commitment to our neighbours in Central America, and we will help those affected by the heavy rains and flooding, which left so many families in need."

Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, will provide up to $2 million to international and Canadian organizations responding to this crisis.

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Information:

Justin Broekema
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238
Email: justin.broekema@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Background

Since the first week of October, large parts of Central America have experienced torrential rains, leading to severe flooding and landslides in several countries. In the most severely affected countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, the total affected population currently stands at approximately 1.9 million. All four of these countries have made appeals for international assistance.

In El Salvador, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) reports that approximately 1,500 mm of rain fell over the country between October 10th and 18th, 2011, the highest level in 50 years. According to the UN, the number of affected in El Salvador is approximately 1,000,000. Government agencies report that flooding has impacted 181 of the country's 262 municipalities, has lead to 35 deaths, and displaced approximately 60,000 into 638 evacuation shelters across the country. Further, 2,000 square kilometres of land have been flooded, equivalent to 10 percent of the entire national territory, while there has been significant damage reported to the country's transportation, health, water, and sanitation infrastructure.

On October 14, 2011, the Government of El Salvador declared a national emergency.

In Guatemala, an estimated 550,000 people have been affected by the flooding with almost 8,000 homes destroyed and 38 deaths. Damage to bridges and roads have hindered the supply of emergency aid to more remote communities. Hampering the country's response efforts is the fact that Government of Guatemala is going through a period of financial constraint, which has resulted in the government being unable to pay personnel with the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED). Similar financial restrictions apply to other ministries such as Health and Agriculture. In addition, presidential elections due on November 6, 2011 have lead to political uncertainty within the government leading to coordination difficulties with the international humanitarian system.

On October 16, 2011, the Government of Guatemala declared a "State of Public Calamity".

In Honduras, the emergency has affected 90,000 people, lead to 29 deaths, and has displaced 8,000 into temporary shelters. Several communities remain cut-off due to severe damage to the country's transportation infrastructure. Further, the flooding has severely damaged the water supply systems and sanitation infrastructure in affected regions.

Also on October 16, 2011, the Government of Honduras declared a state of emergency in 12 out of the country's 18 departments.

In Nicaragua, the flooding has affected approximately 133,000 people in 13 of 15 departments, has lead to 16 deaths, and displaced more than 10,000 people into 102 emergency shelters across the country. In addition, the Ministry of Health is reporting an increased prevalence of acute respiratory infections and water borne diseases. Authorities indicate that there has been substantial damage to the water, health and sanitation infrastructure in affected areas.

On October 17, 2011, the Government of Nicaragua declared a state of "National Calamity and Disaster".

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