Maria Sarmiento and her husband Carlos Fuentes were getting ready to start picking season right before Hurricane Eta landed on the shores of Ocotepeque, Honduras and made 20% of their cherries fall. Weeks later, Hurricane Iota hit, bringing new landslides that further destroyed their crops. The fallout of these climate disasters hit ICP-project areas in Honduras and affected many of the smallholder coffee families ICP works with.
“I’m worried about my family” says Sarmiento. “We barely have food and the little income we were about to receive from this year’s harvest no longer exists”. Luckily, no one from the family was injured.
Just two weeks after Hurricane Eta brought flash flooding and forced thousands out of their homes, Central America was ripped by a second tropical storm, leaving within its wake, a devastating path of destruction.
Hurricane Iota brought stronger winds and torrential rains that led to deadly mudslides and additional destruction across the region. The wrecking of local infrastructure, including damaged roads and washed-out bridges, has slowed rescue efforts.
While smallholder families across Guatemala and Honduras were still struggling with impacts of household earnings and food security due to COVID-19, Eta and Iota made everything break further apart. A recent survey made by our implementing partner, Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), showed that Hurricane Eta will additionally affect the already precarious food security circumstances and household infrastructure for families in rural communities. Over 58% of smallholders in Guatemala and Honduras reported that Eta will directly impact their access to food. Results and impacts will most likely get worse after Hurricane Iota.
Because this emergency situation required an immediate direct response, ICP shareholders decided to make available an emergency fund to support affected families and work with communities to rebuild crucial infrastructure. “At ICP, we closely followed the news about the destruction Hurricanes Eta and Iota have caused. Our thoughts are with the affected people and especially with the smallholder coffee farming families we support”, says ICP-Chairperson Kathrine Löfberg. “We hope that our emergency relief fund will support them and their pathway back out of this situation.”
The emergency relief fund provided by ICP will support 400 smallholder families with direct food access and restoring damaged infrastructure. Severely affected families in the regions of Huehuetenango in Guatemala and Ocotepeque and Copán in Honduras will be given access to nonperishable food and carry out a participatory diagnostic together with farmer organizations to assess the possibility of creating a fund for future emergencies. “All activities will be done in coordination with local authorities from each country. In addition, families will receive support in improving and rebuilding their affected household construction and coffee processing structures”, says Pablo Ruiz, Co-Country Manager of HRNS in Central America.
Support will be given to families like the Rivera’s, who’ve not only lost over 12% of their family’s coffee harvest but are living in a temporary shelter due to massive house destruction.
While the damage done by Iota is still under close evaluation, ICP partners are monitoring families’ most urgent needs while more information is made available in the upcoming days.
Rivera Family’s coffee farm and household after Hurricane Eta and Iota