Little relief in Central America’s food crisis

The worst drought in a decade has brought parts of Central America to the brink of what has been called an emerging food crisis.

Unless “urgently needed” funds materialize soon, 2 million people who are currently food-insecure could face an even more dire outlook, according to donors and NGOs who are currently scrambling to attract emergency funding to a region often overlooked by food security programs.

Central America’s current needs have been overshadowed by global crises that have taxed and strained aid donors’ response capabilities in recent years. But a sustained drought, rising food prices and last year’s “coffee rust” crisis have converged in a perfect storm of food insecurity, leaving 2 million people without sufficient access to nutrition and scores of farmers without work.

Conditions are worst in Guatemala and Honduras, though El Salvador and Nicaragua have also been negatively affected. WF (World Food Program) is calling for $20 million in emergency assistance for the next three months, primarily for food vouchers, which the spokesperson referred to as the “most efficient delivery mechanism.”

WFP appealed for emergency funds in August when a fungus devastated coffee crops for tens of thousands of farmers. Since a new coffee crop takes two years to mature, those farmers have been forced to wait to recoup any profits since replanting.

In September, the United States provided $10 million to relieve the coffee rust crisis, but despite that temporary relief, organizations on the ground say the food security situation is worsening quickly.

The severe drought in Central America is particularly concerning because a large part of the region’s population lives on subsistence agriculture.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Association last month presented its regional plan for food security, nutrition and hunger eradication by 2025 and anticipates governments to outline their plans to implement it in the next few weeks.

19/02 – Claire Luke – (extrait)