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In Central America “El Niño” hinders access to food

In the Central American region, due to the effects of this climatic phenomenon, some 4’092,000 people may need assistance, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Hunger will be in their homes between May and August 2024.


In the case of El Salvador, 590,862 people will require assistance to access food, in Honduras 1,440,000 and in Guatemala 2,546,017.

The data comes from a study by the international organisation Oxfam, entitled “El Niño Phenomenon does not allow us to dream the table, in the Dry Corridor of Central America”.

The paper identified among the causes of the crisis a late and irregular onset of the rainy season, which was reflected in the delayed start of planting during the first crop cycle, as reported by the households interviewed. The researchers underline that only 50.9% of the farmers managed to sow on the usual date in the 2023-2024 cycle, which corresponds to the month of May, while 39% postponed sowing until June; 5.0% in July. Only 5.0% managed to sow with the first rains in April.

In this regard, the Global Food Crisis Report 2023 indicated that El Salvador had 52% of its population in a “food stress” phase in 2022, equivalent to 3.3 million people, while 13% are in a “food crisis” phase (823,000 people), and 1% in a “food emergency” phase (63,000 people).

The Oxfam report showed that according to the households interviewed, 75.9 per cent of their crops suffered the effects of drought, defined as periods of more than 15 consecutive days without rain. Specifically, 56.9 per cent recorded losses of more than 70 per cent in maize production, while 57.4 per cent said they suffered losses in the bean crop.

As a result of its study, Oxfam recommended providing “immediate food assistance, preferably through cash transfers, to households that have suffered more than 50 per cent losses in staple grain production and face some degree of food insecurity”. In addition, the NGO considered it a priority to attend to children with acute malnutrition or at high risk of suffering from it, and to the households of agricultural day labourers who are out of work; to carry out interventions to improve the quality of housing, which implies improving access to drinking water and basic sanitation.

The crisis is further exacerbated by the fact that with the rainy season in El Salvador just days away, local producers are worried about the problems facing the sector.

Óscar Recinos, the coordinator of the international farmers organisation Via Campesina, pointed out that the situation will worsen because crop areas will decrease by around 25% for the 2024-2025 cycle, which will begin with the arrival of winter in a few days in May. PL

(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: Pixabay)

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