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Rainy season worsens housing situation in Nicaragua

June 18, 2010

May marked the beginning of the rainy season in Nicaragua, as well as many other Central American countries, when rainfall rarely lessens until the end of October. During this season, it often pours for weeks at a time, causing floods that destroy homes and crops, raze roads and bridges, isolate villages and endanger fragile food security.

The situation often worsens during hurricane season. In the past 10 years, Nicaragua has suffered four hurricanes and 25 tropical storms. Hurricane Felix, in 2007, destroyed over 5,500 houses and Ida, the most recent, affected over 1,500 people.

Like almost all natural disasters, the most affected are those who are already living in conditions of poverty. In addition to losing their homes, rain also can also take away their livelihood, especially the self-employed who depend on products they grow or manufacture themselves.

For many Nicaraguans, coping with the floods during this season is a way of life. When the water recedes, the most vulnerable families have accustomed to rebuilding their homes and their lives from scratch. In the most poverty-stricken areas, people live in houses with dirt floors, walls of scrap materials and roofs of black plastic. For them, rain can easily turn these floors into mud and destroy the fragile structures of their home.

For these reasons and many others, Nicaragua needs organizations like Habitat for Humanity. The significance of a well-built home is never undervalued; for the vast majority, to live in a house that will keep out the rain seems an unattainable dream.

In Nicaragua, Managua was most affected by the season’s initial rains. According to the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, during the first two days of May it rained 66.5 millimeters of water, a one third of what it is supposed to rain in the entire month.

For some Nicaraguans, the arrival of the rainy season means a simple change in weather, a faster-growing garden, and an opportunity to dust off the umbrella. For others it is the factor that determines whether they’ll have a place to sleep or not. Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua targets areas that are severely affected by poor construction, where the rain not only brings water, but also mud, disease, loss and frustration.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean, click here.

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