Hurricane Mitch, 1998 In October 1998 a tropical storm developed to the east of Central America and began moving towards the countries of Nicaragua and Honduras. As it reached the coast, winds of more than 280 km/h were recorded, and torrential rain caused large areas to be flooded. Roads and bridges were washed away, and in some areas complete villages were destroyed as winds tore down the poor-quality buildings. As rain continued to fall, large areas of land quickly flooded. On steeper slopes, flash-floods and mudslides buried some areas under thousands of tonnes of mud, rocks and vegetation. The day after the hurricane, rivers in the area were ten times their normal width, and it was reported that half a million people had lost their homes, many having to be evacuated to safe areas. Factfile Population 1998 (millions) Human Development Index (HDI) Gross National Product ($ per capita) Adult literacy (%) Population/doctor Honduras 6.3 .57 600 73 1266 Nicaragua 4.8 .53 380 66 2039 UK 58.6 .93 18 700 99 300 The impacts of Hurricane Mitch Honduras Final death toll over 17,000 Many towns completely destroyed. Schools, roads, bridges and power lines lost. Over 70% of the year’s crops ruined, leading to food shortages Around 600,000 people forced to live in makeshift shelters Nicaragua Death toll nearly 3000 20% of the population made homeless All main roads out of the capital city destroyed 20% of all farms ruined ould the impacts have been reduced? Honduras and Nicaragua are two of the poorest countries in Central America, and they do not have the money or technology to prepare for hurricanes. However some people have suggested that the disaster was made worse because: Many towns had no proper storm drains Homes were poorly constructed Villages were built on steep hills or unstable slopes Deforestation may have left slopes bare, increasing the possibility of landslides REBUILDING NICARAGUA AFTER HURRICANE MITCH After hurricane Mitch, much of Nicaragua was devastated and the country had a number of emergency needs because of: The threat of disease as a result of damage to the water supply system. Food and medicine shortages because crops had been destroyed and medical reserves used up. Damage to the infrastructure because roads and bridges had been destroyed. Homelessness caused by the destruction of thousands of homes. Short-term aid was given to Nicaragua to deal with the initial problems of food and medical shortages. Much of the longer-term aid was provided by the World Bank, the world’s largest source of development assistance. The World Bank was set up in 1947 to provide aid to developing countries in the form of loans and technical assistance. Its aim is to reduce poverty and give people the opportunity to improve their living standards.