Central America and Haiti Food Security Alert: October 16, 2015
Drought threatens 3.5 million people in absence of assistance
The ongoing El Niño event has led to one of the worst droughts in recent decades throughout much of Central America and Haiti, with small-scale farmers sustaining heavy losses in staple crop production during the Primera/Printemps season. Forecasts for the remainder of the ongoing Postrera/Été season are mixed, and further adverse impacts on agricultural production are possible. Urgent food assistance is currently required for approximately 2.5 million people already experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Assistance needs will increase with an early start to the 2016 lean season in February/March, with up to 3.5 million people in need of assistance.
Central America and Haiti continue to be affected by the ongoing El Niño event, which is broadly associated with below-average rainfall in the region. In many areas, satellite-derived rainfall estimates indicate that total rainfall between January 1 and September 10, 2015 was the lowest in the past 35 years. The CPC/IRI Forecast indicates a 100 percent probability that the current El Niño event will continue through December, and that it will likely persist into the 2016 Printemps season in Haiti.
The drought has significantly reduced crop production during the Primera/Printemps season, particularly for small-scale producers in Haiti and “dry corridor” areas of Central America. In Haiti, interviews with local officials and partners suggest national Printemps production may be up to 50 percent below average, with local losses in worst-affected areas between 75 and 100 percent. Official production assessments in El Salvador and Honduras, and field reports and interviews with local officials and farmers in Guatemala, indicate that national Primera season losses ranged from 10 to 30 percent for maize and beans. Losses for many small-scale producers were much larger (e.g., 50-80 percent), with some reporting no harvests at all. Areas where Primera/Printemps losses were greatest include the northwest and southern peninsula in Haiti, dry corridor of western and eastern Guatemala, parts of western and particularly eastern El Salvador, western and southern Honduras, and northwestern and central Nicaragua