Building homes and resilience in communities struck by quake

Guatemala, February 5, 2014

Share this story:
  • linkedin
  • google
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Indigenous families in rural Guatemala struggle with poverty and illiteracy — conditions that are exacerbated by frequent tremors in the area. After a devastating earthquake struck the western coast in late 2012, we worked with the hardest-hit of these vulnerable communities to rebuild their homes and prepare for future disasters. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The earthquake damaged over 30,000 houses. Many traditional adobe and cinder block homes — commonly built on unstable soil with inadequate construction — were completely destroyed. Those still standing were so badly damaged they could not be used. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Thousands of men, women and children — who are especially vulnerable when disaster strikes — were left homeless and in need. We distributed emergency food in San Marcos and Quetzaltenango departments in the days after the quake, and in partnership with ECHO helped 12,000 affected people get the support they needed to recover and rebuild for the long-term. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Our recovery work addressed four issues across 58 communities: need for immediate shelter, long-term home repair, women’s participation and disaster preparedness. Priority was given to female-headed households, the elderly, families with young children and other vulnerable groups most affected by the quake. Photo: Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Approximately 600 families whose homes suffered extreme damage received temporary shelters. The shelters were built with locally-sourced materials, helping to boost the local economy. Photo: Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps  </span>
    An additional 600 families whose homes were moderately damaged received construction materials to make essential repairs. Our infrastructure experts supervised all reconstruction projects to make sure homes were rebuilt to withstand future strains. Photo: Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    We also hosted workshops to teach more than 1,200 families about the environmental hazards of the region, how to be prepared for future events, best practices for building disaster-resistant shelters and how to address their children's emotional needs after they've experienced trauma. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Irene Enriquez/Mercy Corps  </span>
    We know that women’s involvement in key decisions helps families better cope with crises, so women were encouraged to share in decision making throughout the course of this program. Community members also participated in workshops emphasizing the importance of equal participation in all aspects of daily life. Photo: Irene Enriquez/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Each community was heavily involved in the recovery efforts and disaster preparedness activities in their area. By working directly with local groups, we were able to identify their needs and provide them with the specific tools and knowledge they needed to rebuild stronger and become more resilient to future emergencies. Photo: Laura Martinez/Mercy Corps

On November 7, 2012 a 7.4-magnitude earthquake rattled the western region of Guatemala, displacing families and destroying thousands of homes.

We responded immediately by distributing emergency food in the hardest-hit communities, and quickly focused our efforts on helping them recover and rebuild stronger.

For nearly a year following the quake, we helped affected communities move forward by providing temporary shelters, reconstruction materials and disaster preparedness education, in partnership with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO).

Scroll through the photos above to learn how we helped these vulnerable communities rebuild.