According to the Global Climate Index, Honduras is classified as one of the nations
most vulnerable to natural disasters in the world. It was the scene of the hurricanes
in 1974 (Fifi) and 1988 (Mitch),
which have been the most catastrophic weather events that have affected the country,
causing human losses, material, economic, and health damages. It took many years and
great resources for the reconstruction, which is still incomplete.
In November 2020, Honduras became the scene again: two major weather events had occurred
in less than two weeks, causing incalculable damage that is still being accounted
for (Table 1). The hurricanes Eta and Iota devastated the country (Figure 1), already
affected during the last nine months by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Honduras. By November
29, 2020, the national system of health (SINAGER) reported 107,513 confirmed cases
and 2,905 deaths.
Besides, the country’s economy has been plunged into a severe crisis by this pandemic
and will undoubtedly be aggravated by recent natural disasters. When a decline in
the curve of reported COVID-19 cases was finally expected, the new events place the
already vulnerable country in an almost impossible situation. At the end of October
2020, the formation of hurricane Eta was announced, a Category 5 hurricane, which
would affect the lands of Nicaragua and Honduras. This event caused flood damage in
some areas that have the highest reported COVID-19 cases. Some of the victims were
refugees in roughly 1,000 shelters with little or no biosecurity measures. Others
continue on the streets, along rivers, under bridges, and other public places where
the health crisis will worsen. The resurgence of dengue complicates the situation
and is endemic in Honduras. Currently, the Health Information Platform for the Americas
reported a total of 23,444 cases with a mortality rate of 0.1 per 100,000 population
Comparison of Damages During Four Major Hurricanes in Honduras
Fifi * (1974)
Eta *** (2020)
Iota **** (2020)
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
Hurricane Scale when Entering Honduras
Affected or Damaged Homes
2,800 rooms of schools in primary education
More than 200
Emergency Aid to Honduras
Post-Climate Event Diseases
Gastrointestinal infections:Cholera (3 cases)Leptospirosis (172 cases)
(Access December 1, 2020); http://cidbimena.desastres.hn/ri-hn2/pdf/doch0014/doch0014.htm
(Accessed December 1, 2020).
November 30, 2020); http://cidbimena.desastres.hn/ri-hn/pdf/spa/doc12921/doc12921-a.pdf
(Accessed November 20, 2020).
(Accessed November 30, 2020); https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/SitRep%204%20Tormentas%20ETA%20IOTA%20Honduras%202020.pdf
(Accessed November 30, 2020).
http://sigmof.icf.gob.hn/?page_id=7546 (Accessed November 20, 2020); https://www.oncenoticias.hn/galerias-el-paso-arrasador-de-los-huracanes-mitch-y-fifi-en-honduras/?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=dc82a5fd7b0cb0ee6cd1527ccfb00a71041da1db-1606673591-0
(Accessed November 20, 2020); Mitch: http://cidbimena.desastres.hn/ri-hn/pdf/spa/doc11026/doc11026-1.pdf
(Accessed December 1, 2020); https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-54965248
(Accessed December 1, 2020).
ND: No Data Available.
Hurricane Iota Arriving to the Coasts of Central America on November 16, 2020. Source:
Open Meteorological Platform Windy (https://www.windy.com/?13.646,-83.046,8).
It is expected that the emerging diseases that usually appear after these climatic
phenomena will appear (arboviruses, leptospirosis, malaria, cholera, a considerable
increase in dermatological diseases, and an increase in psychological disorders).
Not to mention all the acute and chronic pathology that usually occur in the country,
which is managed inefficiently.
Although the floods caused by the overflowing of the rivers have caused most of the
damages, the supersaturation of the soils with possible landslides will increase material
The reports of the Secretary of Agriculture about losses or affectations in around
374,000 acres in essential grain crops, such as banana, sugar cane, citrus, cocoa,
rambutan, among others, are concerning.
Also, human losses and deterioration in living conditions in the affected population
are reaching threatening levels.
To this day, it is difficult to measure the current and future consequences on the
socio-economic development of the country, in this uncertain scenario the increase
in health demand in an already collapsed health system in the face of the summation
panorama: COVID-19, emerging infections, endemic diseases, common diseases, plus two
major natural disasters, turn this situation into a humanitarian crisis without precedent
in the history of Honduras.
The aftermath of the floods and the probable rebound in COVID-19 cases should alert
us not to give up and increase biosecurity measures as much as possible and provide
social assistance to more than one million people affected and thousands more at risk
in Honduras and other countries of Central America.
The challenges for the future are innumerable and of great magnitude, the leadership
of the different experts in each area is required to be able to solve in a logical,
harmonious, fair, and efficient way the situation on all fronts, probably being: health,
education, economy, infrastructure, and the severe problem of insecurity being the
main ones. It is not an easy task that must be accomplished quickly; otherwise, the
consequences for the country are unpredictable.