Out of the 9,000 families in need of food aid, WFP will assist 4,000 through an EMOP/IRA. The Belize Red Cross will assist the remaining 5,000. Both organizations are working closely together to ensure that the food needs of the affected population are fully covered and that efforts are not duplicated.
A second WFP mission traveled to Belize on 22 October to put into place the operational mechanisms for the IRA/EMOP that will cover the food needs for three months of 4,000 people residing in the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts. The operation's objective is to cover the immediate food needs of those families who have lost their crops and/or their sources of income and whose livelihoods are threatened as a result of the hurricane. Assistance will allow these families to cope with the period of greatest food scarcity and allow WFP and its partners to begin recovery efforts.
The WFP IRA/EMOP will serve as a catalyst for relief efforts, complementing the different initiatives of the UN and Government agencies. Representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, Housing, Agriculture and Human Development are sharing requirements and recovery plans with the UN system to ensure complementarity of actions.
Hurricane Iris struck as one planting season was ending and another was about to begin. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, a total of 3,570 acres of corn, 3,581 acres of rice, 5000 acres of bananas, and an equivalent of USD 500,000 in livestock were lost. At this point in time there is a window of two weeks for the planting of maize and three to four weeks for the planting of beans, the two staple crops grown by subsistence farmers. The Government has distributed 18,000 lbs. of maize seeds and 50 MT of fertilizers and is in the process of importing another 10 MT of seeds. 3,000 subsistence farmers will benefit from this government assistance. WFP actions, planned to run from mid-November to mid-February, will support these small farmers as they begin their recovery process.
As WFP has no operational presence in Belize, the IRA/EMOP will be implemented through PAHO/WHO under the Memorandum of Understanding signed recently between WFP/ODM and PAHO/WHO.
2. Central America
Food needs assessments will be carried out in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming weeks in conjunction with Government counterparts and NGOS. The assessments will help determine the extent of damages to the second harvest and how food aid has affected the lives of those who have been assisted, and to identify any gaps in assistance that need to be urgently addressed. In order to ensure consistency across the four countries, the Regional Bureau has developed a core set of indicators that will be integrated into each country's assessment methodology.
To date, WFP Honduras has distributed 2,691 MT to drought-affected families. Coverage has grown from 24,514 families in the first distribution to 25,056 families in the second distribution. Distribution planned for late October to early November will cover 30,193 families. Increases in beneficiary numbers are the result of the constant monitoring of drought-affected areas to ensure coverage of the most food insecure of the population.
Although it appears that the second harvest of the year will be very good, the current coffee crisis is limiting employment and earnings for small subsistence producers and daily workers who depend on coffee as their sole source of income. These small coffee producers and wage laborers are unable to access adequate quantities and qualities of food.
WFP's emergency food distribution to flood victims in Prinzapolka is coming to a close as WFP and the NGO "Acción Médica Cristiana" plan to assess the current needs of the population and consider future areas of collaboration.
As a result of a joint WFP/UNICEF mission, some 12,500 people (2,500 jobless families) in the Departments of Suchitepéquez and Retalhuleu have been added to the previous number of 16, 945 people requiring food assistance due to the drought situation.
Although rainfall in the eastern part of the country is normal and a good harvest of maize and beans is expected, there is concern in other parts of the country that the current cold weather could have a negative effect on crops. In the northeast, the harvest of "maní" has commenced with an estimated 50% loss.
The UN interagency proposal to assist the drought-affected population represents an opportunity to activate the UNDAF process, as this proposal is fully in line with actions taken by the Government to provide assistance to the 102 most vulnerable municipalities, 34 of which have also been affected by the drought.
Several groups, including the Red Cross, are evaluating the effects of Hurricane Iris on isolated communities south of Peten. It is estimated that some 1,800 families lost their crops and material belongings as a result of Hurricane Iris and are currently receiving assistance from the Government.
There are indications that many of the 63,728 families that were affected by the drought in mid-2001 will continue to be vulnerable to food insecurity up to the harvest expected in mid-2002. WFP ELS estimates that even a successful second harvest in November, at this stage uncertain, will not provide previously affected families with the necessary food and revenue to sustain themselves.
This situation is exacerbated by the lack of employment opportunities in the eastern drought-affected parts of the country, due in particular to the crisis that the coffee sector is currently undergoing in El Salvador. Furthermore, many of the same rural communities now suffering from the effects of the drought also suffered the consequences of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and/or one of the two earthquakes that ravaged El Salvador at the beginning of this year. These combined factors will negatively impact thousands of Salvadorian families. They will thus require food aid assistance.
WFP ELS is presently preparing an Emergency Food Needs Assessment to be carried out in conjunction with its partners (NGO's such as CARE, CRS, WLF, American Red Cross, as well as the National Secretariat of the Family).
Results from this assessment will help determine the most food insecure municipalities and communities. This data will then be crossed with the results obtained from an assessment conducted by UNICEF with the Ministry of Health. The UNICEF height-age census will be carried out in the 50 most drought-affected municipalities to assist in the identification of the municipalities and communities with the highest levels of malnutrition.