MADRE Articles

Hurricane Mitch: MADRE Delivers Aid and Supports Community-based Relief Efforts

Posted on: Friday, November 9, 2001

Keywords: Emergency Relief, Nicaragua, Latin America and Caribbean

Hurricane Mitch, one of the most lethal storms of the century, leveled Nicaragua in 1998. In a few days, massive floods and mudslides took tens of thousands of lives, destroyed homes and livelihoods, and left in its wake human suffering of staggering proportions. Tens of thousands died or went missing. Over half a million were left homeless. Outbreaks of disease resulted from exposed corpses and raw sewage streaming through flooded areas.

MADRE responded to the crisis with an emergency campaign to send urgently needed supplies, including water purification tablets, food, blankets, clothing, antibiotics, re-hydration salts for cholera, and anti-parasite and anti-fungal medication. With the money raised through the emergency campaign, MADRE purchased over half a million dollars worth of aid—enough to service 30,000 people for several months.

MADRE Executive Director, Vivian Stromberg, accompanied the shipment to the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, which is home to most of the country's Indigenous and African-descent communities. These communities have endured a history of marginalization and had been overlooked in the distribution of emergency aid. Responders didn't know where these communities were, much less how to reach them in flood conditions. But MADRE worked with local organizations to ensure that those most desperately in need received aid. MADRE sent a relief shipment to a local university on the Atlantic Coast to distribute aid, and delivered aid directly to women in the region who knew where every family lived, which households had new babies or disabled elders, and how to reach remote communities by canoe.

This concrete expression of friendship in moments of need enabled our sister organizations to withstand immediate disasters and move forward with their work on behalf of women in their communities.

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