The worst drought in a decade has affected millions of Central Americans
By admin February 24, 2015


The worst drought in a decade has brought some Central American nations on the brink of an emerging food crisis. The prolonged drought has resulted in a loss of 55 to 75 percent of maize and bean crops which has affected the food security and nutrition for almost two and a half million people in Central America. Conditions have continued to worsen and have mainly affected farmers, laborers, and low-income families living along the dry corridor. Although the drought has affected all of Central America negatively, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have taken the greatest hits.

At the end of 2014, the World Food Programme carried out an Emergency Food Security Assessment in Guatemala on a sample of basic grain producing households affected by drought. The assessment identified that over 248,000 households (1 in 4 houses surveyed in the dry corridor) have moderate and severe food insecurity and 10% of Guatemalan households are consuming water from hazardous sources. In addition, 4.7% of Guatemalans presented total acute malnutrition (mainly in eastern Guatemala) and 2.5% presented severe acute malnutrition, which exceeds the threshold of 2.5% and considers the country in a state of nutritional emergency. Overall, one and half million people in Guatemala have been affected by food insecurity and it has been estimated that it will take over 17.1 million USD to address the situation.

Honduras is the second most affected state by the drought, with over one million citizens affected and it has been estimated that 13.2 million USD is needed to address the situation in the country. The Emergency Food Security Assessment surveyed a sample of people living in the 64 municipalities affected by the drought and found that 27% of the total population is living with deplorable nutrition levels. The study also found that 3.4% of children under age 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition, with a larger impact on girls (5.6%).

In El Salvador, The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador reported that they are experiencing the most severe drought since 1977. It is estimated that 65% of basic grain producers registered crop losses and that 50% of households have implemented harmful coping strategies such as selling their assets. Overall 85,000 of people in El Salvador have been affected by the drought; meanwhile, the severe drought has also affected crops and livestock in Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica.

Fortunately, there has been a significant amount of international assistance in Central America. Many organizations have organized financial resources and are coordinating emergency plans. The European Commission is expected to announce a 4 million euro donation, the WFP is calling for $20 million USD in emergency assistance for the next three months, and Save the Children and Oxfam are finalizing food security strategies for 2015 and are raising funds to implement the plan. The drought has also affected the Central American economy by hindering its agricultural trade, especially since Central America is the fastest growing trading partner of the US.

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