Food insecurity and El Niño in Central America

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Three women plant seeds on a farm in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann


El Niño: 2.3 million Central Americans will need food aid, UN warns in latest alert

Some 2.3 million people in Central America will need food aid as the current El Niño weather pattern, one of the strongest on record, exacerbates a prolonged drought, the United Nations warned today in the latest alert on the impact of the phenomenon which causes floods in parts of the world and drought in others.

“Unfortunately, another dry spell in 2015, this time exacerbated by El Niño, has again caused significant losses during the first crop cycle, the Primera season,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Miguel Barretosaid in Panama.

“This has hit small producers and their families who were struggling to recover from the previous year’s drought, and the number of people in need may increase soon.”

The WFP alert came just two days after UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake warned that 11 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water due to El Niño in eastern and southern Africa alone.

Mr. Barreto said $75 million is needed in Central America, where the drought has already lasted two years in the Dry Corridor that stretches from Guatemala to Nicaragua, but resources are being depleted. WFP assisted more than 200,000 people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras last year.

More than 65 per cent of households in the ‘Dry Corridor’ had no food stocks left at the start of the 2015 Primera season and latest forecasts indicate a 100 per cent probability that the current El Niño, which has been active since last March, will continue through December and likely persist until early 2016.

Read the full article: UN News Centre


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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.