By Matt Raimondi, KF11, Honduras
Natural disasters take on a whole other meaning when living in a developing country. As we have witnessed with the recent catastrophes in Haiti and Chile, the poorest people are often the most effected and what little they have is often lost. When 80% of your population lives below the poverty line, as is the case in Haiti, the aftermath can be crippling. While the initial press coverage is intense and people’s willingness to provide aid is plentiful, too often these countries and their people are forgotten as the excitement and newness of the catastrophe wears off. For developing countries a natural disaster can set them back years and take a long time to recover.
As a Kiva Fellow in Honduras I have heard countless stories about the devastation of Hurricane Mitch over the past week as we have been drenched by Tropical Storm Agatha. Many people here say that Honduras is just getting back to where it was before Mitch. Every large storm that comes through Honduras brings back memories of Hurricane Mitch. People recount stories of Hurricane Mitch in striking detail and recount the destruction and grudgingly slow recovery. They show me how the neighborhood where I live was under 10 feet of water. It is as if Mitch happened yesterday. Mitch was 12 years ago.
Tropical Storm Agatha is the first tropical storm of the 2010 Hurricane season and while relatively weak, it is a disturbing reminder of how catastrophic even the weak storms can be for a developing country. Juticalpa, where I live, luckily avoided the brunt of the storm and was relatively unscathed. Even so, the streets turned to rivers, my MFI flooded, the rivers neared flood level and bridges collapsed. Other parts of Honduras were not as lucky as they were inundated with flooding and mudslides, causing death and destruction. On Sunday, May 30th, the Honduran government declared a national emergency. While the storm has now past and the skies are blue, Agatha has left a wake of destruction and at least 150 people dead throughout Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The press coverage may stop but the need for aid will remain. Tropical Storm Agatha Slideshow
53% of people live below the poverty line in Honduras and many lose their livelihood in natural disasters such as Tropical Storm Agatha. Help those in need by clicking here to loan Kiva entrepreneurs in Central America.
Matt Raimondi is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow at FAMA OPDF in Juticalpa, Olancho, Honduras. FAMA OPDF is a pilot Field Partner and recently posted their first Kiva loans. Click here to support FAMA OPDF by making a loan to one of our entrepreneurs.