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Cablegate: Rains Stop; Flood Recovery Continues

VZCZCXRO0719
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2384/01 2991658
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261658Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1566
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAGUA 002384

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/FO
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USAID/W AND USAID/OFDA
SOUTHCOM PLEASE PASS TO JTF BRAVO
NSC FOR ALVARADO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV CASC MASS AEMR EAID KPAO NU
SUBJECT: RAINS STOP; FLOOD RECOVERY CONTINUES

REF: A. MANAGUA 2372
B. MANAGUA 2366

1. Subject: The persistent heavy rains that flooded
Nicaragua the past weeks have let up, and relief is starting
to flow to victims of the October flooding. President Ortega
called together a meeting of donors on October 23 to urge for
international assistance in response to the second natural
disaster to hit Nicaragua in 52 days; however, the GON's
National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and
Response (SINAPRED) is still in the process of putting
together a comprehensive assessment report on needs
priorities from the October flooding. On October 25, USAID
signed an agreement with the Adventist Development Relief
Agency (ADRA) for emergency relief in three departments
affected by the October floods. The GON released on October
23 its updated, but still preliminary, report on flood
damages that shows an increased number of victims than
earlier reported. There are no known U.S. citizen casualties
from the flooding. End Summary.

Ortega Makes His Pitch
- - - - - - - - - - - -

2. On October 23, President Ortega met with representatives
of the donor community. He started off by noting the forest
fires in Southern California, saying that many countries were
suffering form natural disasters because of global climate
change. Ortega noted that after Felix, the October flooding
was the second national disaster in 52 days. He then
launched into a diatribe against Nicaragua's "untouchable
debt service" that is impeding Nicaragua's ability to respond
to the needs of its own people, and he called for a
restructuring of the terms and conditions for Nicaragua's
internal debt. It's like having a "gun to our head," Ortega
complained.

3. At the October 23 meeting, the GON also asked for the
following sums to meet the ongoing needs generated by
Hurricane Felix and the October flooding (amounts given in
U.S. Dollars):

2.7 million for food purchases;
8 million for housing;
52 million for vital infrastructure;
2 million for risk management;
9 million for health;
15 million for agricultural rehabilitation;
5 million for fisheries rehabilitation; and
6 million for forestry.

The GON did not produce a comprehensive list of needs
directly resulting from the October flooding; however, the
preliminary needs that the GON set forth for two departments
include: 1,500 mattresses; food for one month for 3600
people; 1,500 gallons of fuel for cleaning efforts; and
antifungal medications.

Better but still sketchy numbers
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. Also on October 23, the Nicaraguan Civil Defense
authorities released updated, but still preliminary, numbers
for flood-related damages that show increased numbers of
victims. The October 23 report enumerates: 31,237 people
(6,659 families) affected; 6,376 persons evacuated; 10
deaths; and two missing persons. The report lists
significant infrastructure damage: 1,972 dwellings, of which
33 have been completely destroyed; 1,707 destroyed latrines;
413 contaminated wells; 22 partially damaged bridges, 1,314
kilometers of damaged roads, 59 broken sewers, and multiple
damaged retaining walls and other infrastructure weaknesses.
Health authorities have also registered 161 cases of
leptopirosis in one community in Chinandega, with two
corresponding deaths.

USG Response
- - - - - - -

5. On October 25, USAID signed an agreement with the
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) for USD 50,000
in USAID/OFDA funds to assist in the relief effort of the
October flood victims. Under the terms of the agreement,
ADRA will concentrate its efforts on providing needed relief
supplies to 1000 families in the most affected areas to
alleviate suffering. This relief effort will benefit 48
percent of the total of families affected in three
departments of Matagalpa (600 families), Madriz (240
families), and Chinandega (600 families). Included in these
relief supplies are food rations, mattresses, kitchenware,
and cooking kits. In addition to USAID's assistance to
families under the ongoing Food Security Program, 10% of food
commodities currently in the country from USAID P.L. 480
partners (ADRA and Project Concern International) -- valued
at USD 26,210 -- will be distributed to flood victims in the
departments of Jinotega, Chinandega, Madriz, and Matagalpa.
These are additional beneficiaries that are not covered by
the Food Security Program. USAID/OFDA has deployed two
disaster experts to Nicaragua to assist with the ongoing
assessments and coordination.

6. Regarding Hurricane Felix response, USAID received on
October 25 an additional USD 300 thousand from USAID/OFDA for
the expansion of economic rehabilitation activities in the
Atlantic Autonomous Region North (RAAN) of Nicaragua and is
working with ADRA on program proposals for these funds.
USAID Deputy Director will fly to the RAAN on October 26 to
participate in Donor Group meetings with the Mayor of Bilwi
and the Governor of the RAAN. Vice Minister of Foreign
Affairs Valdrack Janetschke will accompany the Donor Group on
the visit. Also, on October 30, there will be a signing
ceremony for an additional USD 3 million for World Food
Program (WFP) food, at which both Ambassador Trivelli and
Foreign Minister Santos will speak.

Other Donor Contributions
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. While there is no coordinated mechanism to assess donor
contributions, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETE)
published on October 24 a list of international civil society
organization contributions that includes:

UNICEF - USD 2,000 for medical assistance; 500 blankets

CARE - 1,096 basic food packages

German Agro Action (GAA) - 3.5 days of food for 900 persons;
4 100 yard rolls of plastic sheeting

Plan International - 1,065 mattresses

World Vision -
*Chinandega - food for 7 days, medicine, blankets and
plastic sheeting for 265 families in shelters
*San Francisco Libre (department of Managua) - water,
food and medicine to 54 families in shelters

American Citizen Services
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. The Consular warden in Matagalpa reported that she was
aware of one U.S. citizen whose domicile was flooded with
over a meter of mud; however, the AmCit has not made contact
with Embassy nor made any request for assistance. There have
been no further flood-related calls to the Embassy, and we
have no direct knowledge of any U.S. victims.

Public Affairs
- - - - - - - -

9. The October 21 Embassy press release generated very
positive articles about USG assistance in the press on
October 22. It is worthwhile noting that October 24
CID/Gallup survey shows a high percentage of Nicaraguans who
are aware of the USG's disaster relief assistance in response
to Hurricane Felix, despite GON efforts to highlight instead
the assistance promised by ideologically favored partners
such as Venezuela and Cuba. 47 percent of survey respondents
indicated that they believed the US had helped more than any
other country, vs., 29 percent for Venezuela, and 4 percent
for Cuba.
TRIVELLI

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