Drought emergency in Central América´s dry corridor

El Niño causes the worst drought in ten years

©Sean Hawkey

Mikol Antonio Hernández García, cowboy, inspects the dry carcasses of cattle that has died in the drought in San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua. The drought is affecting large areas of Central America. Across Nicaragua hundreds of cattle are dying, wells are drying up and the harvests have failed. Climate change is believed to be responsible for the drought.

“Our families suffer because for two months our land has not received any rainfall. Our corn grew only one meter and some even only half a meter”, says Juan Manuel Diaz community leader from the National Indigenous Maya Chortí Council for Honduras (CONIMCHH).
Juan Manuel Diaz lives in the northwest of Honduras. His farm is located in Santa Rita. There he grows red beans, black beans, rice and corn with his wife and four kids. But the sun has being merciless and no rain have come upon their fields. He is very concerned of what his family and community are going to eat on the following months.
Departments in the dry corridor have received poor rainfall due to the phenomenon “El Niño” Spanish term for the “The Christ Child” also known as Southern Oscillations.
As a consequence peasants have lost their crops and like Juan Manuel Diaz, they’re forced to search in faraway farms for other crops such as plantain to feed their families.
 Planting normally takes place in May when the rainy season starts. Now it is August, and desperate peasants still wait for the rain.    
“But now the rain is too late, our crops have already been lost. We hope that when we plant for the second time in October we will have enough rainfall allowing us to reap the harvest of our land in February”, says Juan Manuel Díaz.

The worst drought in ten years

Juan Manuel Díaz is part of the 76,712 peasants affected by the drought in Honduras. The same phenomenon has affected other Central American countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Also, other livelihoods in the region, including fishing and livestock breeding, have also been negatively affected by the recent drought. Now all countries are victims of an expected food insecurity. 
The magnitude of crop losses, increased prices on stapled foods, and insufficient income from wage labor could produce an acute food insecurity in the region. Depending on the rainfall and market prices over the coming months, the number of people in need of assistance could be the largest since Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Famine prevention

DanChurchAid (DCA) Food Security Officer in Honduras, Delmis Paz, works with Christian Organism of Integral Development for Honduras (OCDIH) to mitigate the impact of famine throughout prevention strategies.

The Honduran government is investing five million US dollars to help the 64 affected municipalities which is half of all municipalities in Honduras.
The most drought affected country in Central America is Nicaragua.
For more information about CONIMCHH visit: http://en.conimchh.org/.

 One method used is the strategic grain reserve in order to support families in times of scarcity, another is the Early Warning System (EWS) which monitors various indicators that can be compared by year, for example the amount of rainfall in May 2013 compared to May 2014.
At the same time DCA works with partner CONIMCHH for the repossession of the rights to land of the Maya Chortí population.
As spokesperson of CONIMCHH, Juan Manuel Díaz hopes that the State of Honduras complies in aiding farmers with the Postrera harvest (October). The Permanent Disaster Preparedness Commission of Honduras (COPECO) is responsible for providing technical assistance to affected farmers. In the meantime, DCA with local partners will keep working to prevent the looming famine.