Three years of erratic rainfall followed by a drought during the planting season in 2014 has put the food security of nearly 1.5 million people in danger in the Dry Corridor of Guatemala. In rural areas, where over 50% of the population lives, families have exhausted their options.
Action Against Hunger is leading a consortium of humanitarian organizations in response to the drought in the dry corridor in Guatemala to mitigate the loss of livelihoods of 276,000 families across the region.
“More than half of households in the Dry Corridor are facing an emergency situation which may continue to deteriorate until August, when the first harvest of the season is collected,” said Miguel Angel Garcia, Director of Action Against Hunger in Guatemala.
“In addition, the phenomenon of El Niño, which affects the frequency and amount of rainfall, will reduce basic grains crop yields in September.”
In 2014, the Dry Corridor region that extends across Central America suffered a drought in July, August and September — a critical time for the planting and development of crops as the availability of water determines the success of the harvest. It is estimated that of the 275,625 drought-affected families, 70% of them lost their harvest from the first planting and 80% do not have grain reserves (WFP, 2014).
Since last December, 15% of families living in rural areas of the Guatemalan Dry Corridor fell into a state of severe food insecurity. Many were already adopting survival strategies, such as reducing the number of daily meals or the quantity of food because they did not have basic grain reserves since March.
Lack of health coverage
Public health services have been interrupted for the second consecutive year in the rural areas of many municipalities. The low prevalence of vaccinations, deworming and the presence of diseases such as measles are an indirect indicator of the lack of access to health services. This situation is a large risk factor in the current drought situation, with a potential impact on the nutritional status of children coming from the most vulnerable families.
Action Against Hunger’s Response
Action Against Hunger, in partnership with other humanitarian workers and with funding from the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is working to respond to this situation (drought in Guatemala).
“The response to immediate needs of communities affected by the loss of their livelihoods is important. This is done through food distributions and cash transfers, as well as agricultural training focusing on resilience, promotion of healthy eating habits through diet diversification using local products and promotion of good practices for the protection of water points” says Jairo Paizano, Emergency Response Coordinator for Action Against Hunger.
“In addition, combined capacity of not for profits and the sharing of tools and resources in a coordinated way allows us to reach more people in need,” he adds.
Action Against Hunger is also working to train the local health services to facilitate the diagnosis and referral of cases of acute malnutrition and diversifying income sources through the implementation of micro-credit and cash for programs work, and promoting the creation of community emergency funds.