Hurricane Stan leaves long term water problems for affected villages in Guatemala


Santiago de Atitln, Solol department

MSF will take on the coordination of the basic healthcare, epidemiological control, water and sanitation and mental health in the provisional housings of Santiago de Atitlan. Affected people cannot return to their homes as their houses have been destroyed. The majority of the people were from Panabaj, a nearby sector that was declared a cemetery.

Almost 6,000 people are still in 40 provisional shelters inside the town of Santiago de Atitlan (20,000 inhabitants), a well-known tourism area around Lake Atitlan. People who cannot return to their homes are living in churches, schools, private houses and other facilities with their extended families.

Despite the presence of a large number of doctors (between 200-300 doctors from Cuba came to Guatemala for this emergency) and several NGOs, the main problem is still the lack of potable water and the dense population in the shelters. So far some minor cases of diarrea have been reported while other diseases are being monitored.

Nueva Concepcin, Escuintla department

During the explo mission in Escuintla department the MSF team discovered two small towns were no aid was provided at all since the beginning of the emergency. Communities of Cano­tia and Santa Ana had serious problems of lack of water supplies, the majority of houses were semi-destroyed and the health post collapsed.

The area is known for its cholera outbreaks, but no cases have been reported so far. However, the team will keep an eye on the epidemiological situation and will have a watsan specialist in the coming days.

Chiquimulilla, Santa Rosa department

After an explo mission carried on in Chiquimulilla, MSF is concerned about the risk of a break of communicable diseases in areas where water is still standing and it is going to stay for the coming days or weeks.

MSF wants to reduce the risk of transmission of malaria and dengue in Chiquimulilla area (3,100 families). The intervention will concentrate in cleaning up 3,020 wells, vector control, distribution of 10,000 nets impregnated with insecticide and evaluation of the real state of housing. In the next days, five mobile teams will visit communities around Chiquimulilla and the medical staff will monitor the epidemiological situation.


At least 6,000 people are still living in provisional shelters in Coatepeque (130,000 inhabitants) but the authorities have confirmed that the health situation is maintained by Cuba medical brigades. MSF is still keeping an eye on the situation while normal activities carry on in the AIDS clinic in Coatepeque.

For two days a small medical team made health consultations in Oc³s, on the Mexican border. There 130 people, mostly affected by minor troubles like mycosis attended the MSF consultations in the center of supply. However the team will concentrate on watsan activities from now on.

MSF installed three tanks of 40,000 litres of water in Oc³s. In the coming days the team will clean up the wells as they are normally only 2-3 metres underground and they would have been easily contaminated. Watsan activities will be done in Oc³s, Limones and La independencia.

MSF team did also an explo mission through the Mexican border to reach Malacatan town (in Guatemala) that was inaccessible by land. Roads are slowly becoming functional again