Hurricane Iota strikes as Central America still reels from Eta

Just two weeks after Hurricane Eta hit Central America, causing devastating flooding and landslides in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, the region faced a new threat in Hurricane Iota. On Monday November 9th, the strongest storm to date slammed the coast of Nicaragua, just 15 miles from where Eta struck, with winds up to 155 miles per hour.

To date, Hurricane Iota has impacted at least 40,000 people in the region and is expected to have lingering rains until the end of the week, leading to significant flash flooding and mudslides. Large and destructive waves are expected to accompany the surge as the storm could raise coastal water levels “as much as 15 to 20 feet above normal tide levels”.

The severity of the societal and economic impacts of these two hurricanes is yet to be seen. One major worry is that the number of COVID-19 cases, which was already wreaking havoc in the region, could dramatically increase as access to protective materials is difficult and compliance with social distancing guidelines are impossible. Another major concern is imminent food and economic crisis that the region will enter into as well as the metal health of all those affected by this traumatic event.


[Update 26.11.2020]

In Guatemala, there are more than 150 people missing, and this number is expected to rise. The most affected people still cannot return to their communities due to high water levels or because they lost their homes. The current political crisis in the country worsens the situation of those affected who are being forgotten. Humanitarian aid in shelters is dependent on international and national aid and biosecurity has taken a back seat as the urgency for supplies keeps increasing. The ineffectiveness of the State in disaster prevention and infrastructure and housing in risk areas increased the number of people affected.

As of November 23rd, in Guatemala there had been:

383,613 individuals have been affected
27,158 individuals have been evacuated
7,268 individuals were in shelters
4,847 homes has been damaged
54 roads had been destroyed
26 bridges has been affected
41,698 hectares of crops have been destroyed, affecting the livelihood of 72,896 families

[Previously 23.11.2020]

In addition to the casualties suffered during and immediately following Hurricane ETA, at least 26 people have died from Iota’s impacts: 16 in Nicaragua, six in Honduras, two in Guatemala and two in Colombia. Women and minors are among those who have died in the storm. As of Friday, approximately 99.5% of properties on the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast are without electricity, the country’s National System for Prevention and Attention to Disasters (Sinapred) reported.

As of Monday, there were 55,435 people in 535 shelters across Honduras.


The local Fe y Alegrías in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala have been collaborating in relief efforts since Hurricane Eta hit.

In Guatemala, Fe y Alegría has been collecting food and clothing, as well as made its educational centers available to serve as shelters to support those who are most in need. As of last Wednesday, before Hurricane Iota hit, 83 individuals connected to the Fe y Alegría community had been affected.

There are 4 Fe y Alegria communities in a situation of serious risk and vulnerability and 8 others that have been affected. Edilson Chun, the director of Mulrigrado school said he “had never seen something like this, what is most needed is psychological help, is that you cannot forget the block of water, it was immense, it went into the town … I will never forget that, I cannot go back to where my house was.” illustrating the severity of the situation.

In Honduras, Fe y Alegría has focused the immediate response has focused on basic needs (biosecurity to prevent COVID and provide access to water, food, blankets and clothing) for more than 700 people, a number projected to increase.

The Jesuit Province of Central America released a three-phase plan to continue supporting hurricane relief efforts and the preparation to rebuild. Although it is extremely difficult to quantify the impacts of these hurricanes and the help that will be needed, our partners’ previous experience in dealing with emergency responses allows for a realistic plan to be developed. Each phase is a modest, but effective way that will benefit many families in the areas where the Jesuits collaborate. The plan is estimated to need at least $145,000 USD.

(1) Emergency Phase: With support from Jesuit and non-Jesuit parishes, as well as Fe y Alegría, people were led to secure shelters where they have been offered food, drink, lodging and spiritual and psychological attention. After finishing this first week, it is estimated this type of assistance will be needed for another two weeks.

(2) Prevention Phase: There are many people who have not been displaced from their homes, but need food kits due to the impact of the hurricanes in their communities and surrounding areas. In this phase, it is estimated that support will be needed for at least 2-3 weeks, or until stability has been achieved. Food kits include grains, oil, water, milk, a PPE kit, one flashlight + batteries and more. This phase will be the longest, as working conditions in the region have become unsustainable. Aid will be needed in order to cover the costs for the estimated 2-3 weeks, and the number of people in need during this phase is projected to increase significantly as time goes on.

(3) Recovery and Rebuilding: Each entity with intentions to aid in building back, will have to present a Rebuilding Plan to budget the economic help they will need. While each entity presents its Rebuilding Plans; a top priority will be to provide citizens with zinc sheets. At least 70% of the amount needed in this phase will be used to repair the homes of affected families. Additionally, at least four parishes and chapels in Honduras and five Fe y Alegría schools in Nicaragua have been flooded by Hurricane Iota and are in need of repairs.


As Central America continues to face this increasingly difficult and tragic challenge, in a year that has already seen the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate existing inequalities, know that you can help!

To support hurricane relief efforts, click here.

UNESCO and Fe y Alegría Guatemala open first Malala Center in Latin America

Throughout history, gender inequality has been ever present. Even in the 21st century, discrimination persists. Many of us are witnesses to it. In some places it becomes more evident than in others, and  it continues to occur at all levels and social spheres.

What is needed to achieve gender equality, a world where men and women live in respect, harmony and peace? Where there is dialogue and feelings and ideas can be expressed freely?

One ingredient is the courage to be a woman and defend the rights we have. As Malala Yousafzai has done in Pakistan in defending the right to education for girls and women. It is also about the passion for life and being a person. This passion leads us to fight for what we deserve, for what is ours and what belongs to all. We all have the right to education. Education opens doors, changes mentalities, and enriches the person.

What to do, when to start and how? These answers are quite clear, with the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, which seeks in Guatemala to strengthen the educational policies of gender equality at the national and local levels through the creation of two UNESCO-Malala centers in the western highlands of Guatemala. In Santa María Chiquimula, Totonicapán we have one center and Fe y Alegría Guatemala has opened its doors and heart to support and work for the education of indigenous girls, adolescents and young women, especially those who have been marginalized from the education system due to their gender, ethnicity,and poverty, in order to strengthen equity and gender equality.

The “MINEDUC-UNESCO Malala-Fe y Alegría Training and Information Center” project was launched in July of this year. It promotes the creation and approval of an educational policy for gender equality that will guide the education of the country. It seeks to guarantee the right to quality education, with an emphasis on a gender perspective. This policy will be implemented with the participation and involvement of the Ministry of Education of Guatemala. The project adds to the work done by Fe y Alegría in favor of access to quality education for all and encourages processes of change, development and transformation in personal, family and community spaces. It also contemplates the participation of the municipalities and the Municipal Directorate of Women, as well as all educational actors of the community and other grassroots organizations.

The agreements that UNESCO and Fe y Alegría have taken on include:

  • Undertake joint work with the community of Santa María Chiquimula.
  • Organize and plan follow-up and accompaniment meetings.
  • Facilitate inclusion and entrepreneurship workshops.
  • Share training materials.

At Fe y Alegría, we are promoters of networking, thus an alliance with UNESCO has been created because we believe that we can carry out a holistic approach that responds to the interests and objectives of both institutions… “to do together what we cannot do alone”.

International Day of the Girl Child


Every girl has the right to live free from violence, discrimination, intimidation and abuse. However, today, violence denies this right to millions of girls around the world and continues to be one of the most persistent, systematic and widespread violations of human rights.

For this reason, on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría Spain has launched the campaign “La Luz de las Niñas” to raise awareness regarding the inequalities suffered by girls, protect them from violence, ensure their ability to choose their future, and to advocate to transform the causes of injustice towards them”, according to Raquel Martín, Director of Communication and Institutional Development at Entreculturas.

“We want their light to shine. Girls have the right to a childhood with equal opportunities, free from fear, threats and aggression. Education can defend them, protect their rights, and transform their lives” says  Raquel Martín.

Dani Villanueva, Vice President at Fundación Entreculturas, asserted: “We are not talking simply of anecdotes: 240 million girls see their lives threatened by violence, more than 200 million girls in the world have suffered genital mutilation. Each year 12 million girls are married before they turn 18. More than 150 million suffer sexual violence. And 34.2 million girls and women are refugees or displaced. But behind each of these figures is a face and a name.” The majority of girls in the world are forced to do housework such as cooking, fetching firewood, water or taking care of their younger siblings. These forms of violence against girls provoke serious psychological, physical and social consequences that mark them forever, taking them away from school, their childhood, and their opportunities.

To offer witness to these realities of injustice, Sifa Kaite, the Child Protection Coordinator at JRS Chad and Sofía Gutiérrez, the Public Advocacy Coordinator at Fe y Alegría Guatemala, shared their testimonies at the launch. 

Girls must receive support from public protection systems: this implies strengthening the coordination of institutions working in the education, health, child protection and justice sectors, among others. It is necessary to eliminate the obstacles that impede access to girls’ education by allocating sufficient investment and applying incentives and scholarships. It is also especially relevant to ensure that those girls who suffer from multiple disadvantages – due to the fact that they live in remote or conflict areas, belong to minorities, have some type of functional diversity, or are wives and teenage mothers – have access to a quality education that inspires, trains and offers opportunities to carry out their goals.

Once girls are in school, the challenge does not end there, and we must continue to educate in equality. Both governments and educational communities must work to transform schools into safe spaces, which implies having inclusive school infrastructures that are appropriate to their specific needs, as well as promoting awareness within the school community on unequal gender norms that fuel violence in order to critically reflect on them and thus transform these practices.

At the same time, schools must establish programs that seek to prevent, detect, and act on all cases of violence, generating trust in the system among girls and moving away from promoting blame or even stigma. Teachers and administrators must be trained in gender equality, as well as prevention and detection of violence against girls.

To achieve the transition towards an egalitarian society, citizens, organizations, schools and communities have the duty to break the silence in the face of violence against girls and guarantee access to justice and respect for their human rights.

View original post (Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría Spain)

Learn more about the campaign “La Luz de las Niñas”.

Download the report (In Spanish).