1.4 million need food assistance in Central America – FAO


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have warned that prolonged droughts and heavy rain have destroyed more than half of the maize and bean crops of the subsistence farmers along the Central American Dry Corridor. This leaves them without food reserves ,therefore affects their food security.

Central American governments estimated that 2.2 million people have suffered crop losses, mainly due to the drought. Emergency food security assessments carried out in the Dry Corridor by WFP, FAO and the governments during the last quarter of 2018 validated these findings and confirmed that 1.4 million people out of the 2.2 million urgently need food assistance.

For 2019, FAO and WFP are requesting US$72 million from the international community to provide food assistance to more than 700,000 people in the Dry Corridor.

These funds will also help to create and restore productive assets, diversify the subsistence farmers’ source of income, establish social protection safety nets and strengthen the farmers’ resilience in the face of future climate-related events.

Central American governments reported that in 2018, a delayed start to the rainy season in the Dry Corridor ruined up to 70 percent of the subsistence farmers’ first harvest, while in contrast too much rainfall damaged up to 50 percent of the second harvest.

FAO and WFP recommend subsistence farmers are informed about the current situation to prevent the loss of their crops due to a delayed rainy season. Alternatives for them to consider are replacing the existing water-dependant crops with sorghum and tubers, which need less water, or sowing short-cycle crops with the first rains in the dryer zones.

Once their food reserves have been depleted families often resort to what emergency coping strategies. According to FAO, WFP and the governments, up to 82 percent of the families have sold their farming tools and animals to purchase food. They even skip meals or eat less nutritious foods.

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