mesoamerica climate resilience fund

Helping Indigenous and Local Communities Recover from Natural Disasters in Mesoamerica

Within a span of two weeks two in November 2020, Mesoamerica was pummeled by hurricanes Eta and Iota. Nicaragua and Honduras were hit directly. The Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes recorded winds of 160 miles-per-hour and dumped more than 30 inches of rain, causing mass devastation to the Moskitia Forest— one of the Five Great Forests of Mesoamerica. The Mesoamerica Climate Resilience and Response Fund helps get Indigenous and local communities living in Moskitia emergency relief. 

The Moskitia Forest, which is vital to sustaining Indigenous communities in the face of human-induced climate change and the extinction crisis, was flooded by the back-to-back storms. This made it more vulnerable to illegal land grabs for cattle ranching and logging. The Indigenous communities who live in and are guardians of the forest, lost their homes and livelihoods in the storms. Some lost their lives.

Emergency relief efforts in Mesoamerica in the wake of the storms have largely focused on urban areas. Indigenous communities living in remote areas are still waiting for help. The Mesoamerica Climate Resilience and Response Fund— established by the Mesoamerican Alliance for People and Forests (AMPB), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Re:wild—is rushing emergency funding and supplies to the Indigenous communities who live in and around the binational Moskitia Forest. These supplies will help them recover and rebuild their communities, and continue to serve as guardians of Mesoamerica’s Five Great Forests.

Help us get desperately needed emergency relief to Indigenous communities including:

  • Seeds to replant their crops

  • Food staples

  • Clothing

  • Construction materials to rebuild their homes

Nearly half of Mesoamerica’s Five Great Forests are governed by Indigenous peoples and communities who have lived and worked sustainably in them for centuries. Intact forests and Indigenous communities, such as these are critically important; globally such forests represent 30% of the climate solution by absorbing and storing carbon.

2020 was a record-breaking hurricane season. There were 30 storms large enough to receive names. Iota was the 13th hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season. Peaking in strength on Nov. 16, there has never been a Category 5 hurricane so late in the season. The increased strength and intensity of these storms are caused by human-induced climate change. Central America is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to severe weather events caused by climate change. The region has been affected by increasingly severe droughts and fires during the dry season, and more frequent and stronger tropical storms during the wet season. Indigenous and local communities in the Caribbean are exposed and vulnerable to these devastating hurricanes and extreme weather events as well. In the last 20 years, the region experienced about 17 hurricanes annually, of which 23 reached Category 5 strength. The region has never experienced a season like 2020, especially two hurricanes destroying the same areas in less than two weeks.

Healthy and intact forests, like the Five Great Forests of Mesoamerica, which includes the Moskitia Forest, are critical nature-based solutions to slow and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The restoration of coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, also help buffer storm damage.

Help Indigenous communities and the Moskitia Forest recover.

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Wild Facts

  • Climate change is affecting Mesoamerica, making droughts more severe in the dry season and tropical storms stronger and more frequent in the wet season.

  • During the 2020 hurricane season, there were 30 storms strong enough to receive names.

  • Damaging hurricanes make the Five Great Forests and Indigenous communities more vulnerable to illegal land grabs for cattle ranching.

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