SOURCE: Lutheran World Relief, Inc.

Lutheran World Relief, Inc.

September 08, 2015 15:03 ET

Lutheran World Relief: Central America Drought Situation Report

Severe Drought Conditions are Causing Widespread Hunger Across Central America

BALTIMORE, MD--(Marketwired - September 08, 2015) -

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Abnormal weather patterns associated with El Niño have heavily affected rural communities along the Dry Corridor of Central America. Severe drought conditions have been reported in this region since mid-2014 across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The situation has only been exacerbated due to an extended 2015 "canícula" (dry period), also in connection with El Niño. No precipitation has meant no irrigation of basic crops for rural communities and families that are highly dependent on corn and beans for their subsistence. This, along with little-to-no purchasing power as a result of the loss of crops, has generated severe food insecurity and is having an irreversible impact on the health and livelihood of many families in drought-affected regions.

As per recent reports, an estimated 2.5 million people have been affected by the drought in 2015, of which 1.2 million to 1.3 million are requiring assistance. In Guatemala, a total of 154,000 families have lost between 50-100% of their corn and bean crops; 40 municipalities are in moderate to severe conditions of food insecurity, with 9% suffering from acute malnutrition. In Honduras, a total of 161,000 families from 146 municipalities have been affected, of which 83,000 are in tremendous need of assistance. In El Salvador, approximately 500,000 people have been affected and it is estimated that up to 50% of corn, beans and coffee crops will be lost if the drought persists.

According to FEWSNET, crisis (IPC Phase 3) is likely during the 2015/16 consumption year in western and eastern Guatemala, southern and western Honduras, and eastern and western El Salvador. Populations in these dry areas require urgent assistance to mitigate food consumption gaps.

INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE EFFORTS

A state of emergency has only been officially declared in Honduras, prompting the government to initiate a local response consisting mainly of food assistance. A UN-led interagency food security survey has recently been carried out and a Strategic Response Plan (formerly known as Flash Appeal) is being formulated in joint collaboration with 17 humanitarian actors, including LWR.

Despite no state of emergency yet declared for Guatemala and El Salvador, the members of the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC) -- part of the Central American Integration System (SICA) -- recently agreed on issuing a region-wide alert, paving the way for wider international assistance across the region.

In Guatemala, the UN Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has deemed the situation a "humanitarian crisis" and has been working closely with the government to identify needs and prioritize areas of immediate intervention.

In El Salvador, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) has drafted a Strategic Plan of Action (EPoA) to address urgent needs.

LWR'S RESPONSE

In a joint effort with two of our strategic local partners, Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM) and Lutheran World Federation (LWF), LWR's emergency response to date has been focused in southwestern Honduras and eastern Guatemala respectively. Intervention has been focused on providing cash transfers, food rations, vouchers for non-food items, and supporting local institutional capacity strengthening for drought response. Further information on these projects can be found on: http://programs.lwr.org/atf/cf/%7B8ed291f8-702d-4e2c-9821-68d75e0105d2%7D/LWR-CENTRAL-AMERICA-DROUGHT-RESPONSE.pdf

LWR is currently assessing further involvement in this region-wide crisis by either extending current response projects or expanding to other affected regions that have not yet been assisted.

LWR in CENTRAL AMERICA

LWR began working in Central America in 1972, and has regional headquarters in Managua, Nicaragua. LWR works with local non-governmental organizations, including farmers' organizations, in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to advance rural development through programs in agriculture, climate change and water, and to respond to natural disasters. LWR collaborates in Central America with a diverse set of partners including other development agencies and private sector entities.

Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas. For more information, visit lwr.org.

The following files are available for download:

Contact Information

  • John Rivera
    Media Relations Manager
    jrivera@lwr.org
    Office: 410-230-2751
    Cell: 443-604-2918