Impact of Recurrent Climate Shocks
Over the past six years, the Dry Corridor of Central America has been repeatedly affected by recurring dry spells and torrential rains that have disrupted food production in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
During the months of July and August 2018, the first crop season, commonly referred to as the primera, was affected by severe drought that caused some areas in Central America to experience more than 50 consecutive days without rain. In October 2018, remnants from Tropical Storm Isaac in the Caribbean caused heavy rainfall over Central America, which negatively affected the second crop season (postrera).
As a result, approximately 282,000 hectares of maize and beans were lost, affecting mainly subsistence farmers and salaried agricultural workers, while also placing millions in the region in a state of moderate-to-severe food insecurity.
Between November and December 2018, WFP and partners, with the support of host Governments, conducted Emergency Food Security Assessments (EFSAs) in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. On average, more than 25 per cent of households interviewed were severely or moderately food insecure, with a peak at nearly 38 per cent in Guatemala.
The deterioration of living conditions, coupled with a 65 per cent probability of a weak El Niño phenomenon affecting the region during June-August 2019, is likely to have a major impact on the already high migratory flow coming out of these Central American countries.
At present, a weak El Niño persisted through early March, causing irregular rainfall and temperatures that would have a potentially damaging effect on the first harvest season and the second seeding season on subsistence farming grains in the Dry Corridor.
Per FEWS NET, subsistence farming families are in Integrated Phase Classification (ICP) Phase 2 (stressed) food security due to the deterioration of their livelihoods, recurring loss of harvests, employment reduction and rising prices of basic goods. Poorer households in isolated communities might find themselves in ICP Phase 3 (crisis) acute food insecurity.
Food and cash assistance are required in the short term to help severely and moderately food insecure families meet their basic food requirements and prevent asset depletion. Immediate assistance needs to be linked with medium-to-long term solutions such as resilience programming in rural areas, and shock responsive and adaptive social protection to mitigate the social and economic impact of the drought on deprived and marginalized communities.