The people of Pinar del Río will remember the night of 26/27 September 2022 for a long time as this is when Hurricane Ian hit the island. After the disaster, HI mobilised its team to support communities.
A night of terror
Almost a year has passed since Hurricane Ian hit Cuba. The western provinces of Pinar del Río and Artemisa were the worst affected. Many residents said they had “never experienced anything like it”. In the province of Pinar del Río, the hurricane damaged 100,000 houses, destroyed 660 schools and ravaged 21,000 hectares of agricultural land. Crops such as tobacco – the region's economic driver – bananas and cassava, as well as pig and poultry farms, were severely affected.
“It’s been a long time since I've seen such a cyclone. It was terrible, the water was pouring into my house. My mother has been bed-ridden for years because of a degenerative disease. I had to move her several times during the hurricane so that she didn’t get wet,” says Minerva Machín, who lives in Minas de Matahambre.
Responding to the emergency
The hurricane-response project, provided 360 families in the municipality of Minas de Matahambre with hygiene kits (which include towels, a water filter, a mosquito net and a 1,000-litre water tank) as well as household goods such as an electric stove, a mattress, sheets and kitchen utensils. Furthermore, to help them with their daily routine, 250 people with disabilities and their families received equipment adapted to their needs such as wheelchairs, walking sticks, healthcare beds and crutches.
“The night Hurricane lan hit was terrible. The wind was extremely strong. I heard people screaming because the roofs of houses were being torn off. We lost a great deal. Fortunately, my family received various supplies. We were given a suitable toilet seat for my sister, whose mobility is reduced because of an illness, as well as toiletries and a winter blanket,” says Idania Martínez Moreno, who also lives in Minas de Matahambre.
HI has organised awareness-raising sessions about the transmission of water-borne diseases and has also run sessions on the prevention of gender-based violence, as crisis and disaster situations increase the risk of such violence. Furthermore, 870 people have been trained in workshops on sexual and reproductive health.
Nearly 4,000 people have received support in Minas de Matahambre.
Prevention and support in the long term
In order to continue supporting the communities affected by the hurricane, HI launched a new project in April 2023 that strengthens the resilience of residents in three towns: Consolación del Sur, San Juan y Martínez and Pinar del Río. Its objective: to help communities adopt preventive measures, with a focus on the inclusion of women, people with disabilities and elderly people. At the same time, HI is planning to provide training courses in disaster-risk preparedness in schools, and awareness-raising sessions for supervisory staff on emotional support for children.
HI is also supporting the development of urban farms, offering training courses and encouraging the use of more environmentally friendly agro-ecological methods such as crop rotation and composting. Communities’ food self-sufficiency is therefore being boosted, which in turn improves their resilience to future disasters.
The response to Hurricane Ian is funded by the European Union’s Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). It is part of the “Cuenca Resiliente” project, which HI launched in Pinar del Río in 2021, in consortium with CARE, and will run until May 2025.