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Central America braces for drought-linked food crisis

Central America braces for drought-linked food crisis thumbnail

Low rainfall linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon has led to drought in parts of Central America, causing widespread damage to crops, shortages and rising prices of food, and worsening hunger among the region’s poor.

An unusually hot season and extended dry spells have brought drought to areas in eastern and western Guatemala and El Salvador, southern Honduras and northern and central Nicaragua, destroying swathes of bean and maize crops, the region’s staple foods, and putting pressure on subsistence farmers and food prices.

“Extremely poor households across large areas of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador will experience a rapid deterioration in their food security in early 2015.

“Atypically high levels of humanitarian assistance, possibly the highest since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, will likely be required in order to avoid a food crisis,” said a recent report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), run by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Thousands of families in the region have become too poor to buy enough food for survival because poor harvests are pushing up prices of staple foods while coffee producers are hiring fewer seasonal coffee pickers and paying lower wages because of a coffee leaf rust or roya epidemic across Central America.

In Nicaragua and Honduras, red bean prices rose by up to 129 percent between January and June 2014, according to FEWS NET.

Other livelihoods in Central America, including fishing and livestock breeding, have also been hard hit by the recent drought and the El Nino weather phenomenon, FEWS NET said.

El Nino, which can last more than a year, significantly raises surface temperatures in the central and eastern areas of the tropical Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon linked to major climate fluctuations around the world.

In response to the drought, the Guatemalan government has said it will begin distributing 4,000 tonnes of food aid to more than 170,000 families affected by the drought from early October, using government and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) food reserves.

One of the poorest countries in Central America, Guatemala already struggles to feed its population, particularly those impoverished indigenous communities living in rural areas.

Around half Guatemala’s population of 15 million lives in poverty and the country has the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition, which affects almost half the children under five, according to the WFP.

In neighboring Honduras, the government is distributing food, including rice, beans and flour, and vitamin supplements to 76,000 families, many subsistence farmers, affected by the drought.

yahoo – reuters

9 Comments on "Central America braces for drought-linked food crisis"

  1. paulo1 on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 8:46 am 

    I am sure the drought observations are correct, however, the jury still seems to be out whether or not this year is El Nino or not? They keep revising projections for this yearas well….at least for west coast NA.

    It could be el nino is happening now, but maybe will wane this winter? I don’t know what the story is except that western NA is screwed up warm this summer, even where I live on northern Vancouver Island.

    We are supposed to get, maybe 4-8 mm rain today, but that is all until the end of the long range projection. We have not had appreciable percip this summer and rivers are lower than anyone has ever seen. I have been hauling water to my fruit trees this summer in 45s and using buckets to water as my pond has dried up. These dry summers can last into October here, and that will be terrible for this salmon cycle.

    Obviously, our situation is more of a hassle than what these folks are enduring. However, this summer I have understood just a bit of what it is like to look at the sky and wonder if it will rain in time? I simply cannot imagine the despair of the Dust Bowl, or what these folks are going through. Time to dust off (no pun intended) ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and do a reread. The same things seem to be unfolding with the economy, winners and losers, etc.

    Next week I am bringing in a back hoe (Case 580) which can extend 14′ and will deepen pond. He can sit on the dried up shallow bench and probably get down to 25′ which is well into the glacial sand/gravel layer where the water flows. Next summer I will have a transfer system in place; somewhat like Ghungs. I have the tanks ready to go which will be at my orchard site and potato field. We have an awesome well at the house for irrigation, but the remote fields are too far away to run lines and hoses (500 metres).


  2. Kenz300 on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 8:59 am 

    Quote — “Extremely poor households across large areas of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador will experience a rapid deterioration in their food security in early 2015.”

    Around the world we have a food crisis, a water crisis, a declining food stock crisis, an energy crisis, an unemployment crisis, a Climate Change crisis and an OVER POPULATION crisis.

    Every year we add 80 million more mouths to feed, clothe, house, and provide energy for. That is not sustainable.

    People that can not provide for themselves are having more children that they can not provide for……. this only leads to more poverty, suffering and despair.


    Overpopulation facts – the problem no one will discuss: Alexandra Paul at TEDxTopanga – YouTube

  3. JuanP on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 9:09 am 

    Paulo, last I heard about El Niño was that is is becoming less likely, but it is still a possibility for later this year. The last NOAA report I read, last week I think, said 50-50 chance of El Niño this year. If it happened it is supposed to bring rain to CA, I don’t know how it affects your area. I think CA’s drought will continue, but I hope I’m wrong.

  4. JuanP on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 9:14 am 

    For El Niño’s info visit

  5. JuanP on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 9:17 am 

    I correct myself. A new report is out. The NOAA’s latest El Niño report put the chance of it happenning this year at 65% as of August 7.

  6. JuanP on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 9:24 am 

    This article is unreliable and hard to believe. I don’t want to visit the FEWS site, cause I go to NOAA for weather. There is no El Niño so far as of this moment this year. Either FEWS made a mistake, it is being misquoted, or this article is total BS.

  7. gwb on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 11:29 am 

    We are still in the early stages of climate-change-induced drought; Central America and parts of South America, as well as the U.S. midwest and the Mediterranean region, will be hit hard. Several years ago, the National Council on Atmospheric Research posted a revealing chart forecasting the potential severity of drought worldwide in the coming decades:

    We ain’t seen nothing yet…

  8. redpill on Fri, 15th Aug 2014 7:58 pm 

    This may be a little dated, I was searching for data on access to birth control in Central America and came upon this tidbit.

    “Honduras is about to decide on a law, which would criminalize women for using morning after contraception, even if they were raped. The penalty would be the same for seeking an abortion there, which is three to six years.”

    Wisdom, truly.

  9. Kenz300 on Sat, 16th Aug 2014 8:35 am 

    If you can not provide for yourself you can not provide for a child.

    Birth Control Permanent Methods: Learn About Effectiveness

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