Hurricane Mitch 1998 - Honduras

After Hurricane Mitch devastated much of Central America, EcoSouth colleagues Grupo Sofonias Nicaragua, EcoVide Honduras and CIDEM Cuba became involved in post-disaster reconstruction.

La Betania, just another barrio in a satellite city ?

When Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras in October 1998, the inhabitants of "La Betania", a neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, had to abandon their houses and sacrifice them to the swelling river. Four years later they moved into their new houses in a satellite town 30km outside of Tegucigalpa, the new neighborhood also called "La Betania". 

When EcoViDe was entrusted with the reconstruction of "La Betania", it first had to search for a suitable piece of land, an almost impossible task as land prices kept rising. Together with a planning consultant from Grupo Sofonias and  active consultation with the social organization of "La Betania", they decided it would be wrong to follow other NGO´s that simply started building houses in the mountains surrounding Tegucigalpa.

EcoSouth partner CIDEM dispatched a town planner to Honduras and, together with the national planning board and the committee of  the future house owners, he conceived an innovative settlement design, limiting earth movements to a minimum and creating interesting areas for the 317 projected houses. 

The only materials available on site were clay, sand and rocks. Due to the massiveness of the project and the small plots clay was not a viable choice for walls. Thus, EcoVide produced hollow concrete blocks and MCR tiles on site at costs below commercial materials, although market salaries were paid and all sand, gravel and cement had to be transported to the site.

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Kurt RhynerKurt Rhyner
Architect, PhD. Professor
Spanish, English, German, French.
Project conception, analysis of technologies and materials appropriate to the specific situation, financial analysis, executive management, backstopping, evaluations


In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.