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Central America drought: WFP-ODM Emergency Situation Report

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Situation Report
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Posted
Originally published
1. Central America drought
FAO has cautioned on the severe consequences for food security early next year for drought-affected farmers if the phenomena would continue into the second season or if hurricanes destroy crops. Furthermore, in its Special Alert on food shortages in Central America (3 September, No. 317), FAO reports that "the capacity of the affected farmers to recover from the effects of the drought by increasing the area planted in the second and third planting season is limited due to the lack of seeds". The Alert adds that "coping strategies by the poorest farmers and the landless rural population include off-farm income earning activities in nearby coffee and banana plantations (...) the closure of many processing plants and plantations due to low yields from the drought and low international prices has triggered a significant migration of people throughout the sub-region in search of alternative employment". FAO is collaborating with the provision of agricultural inputs for planting second season crops.

a. El Salvador

Drought: Over the past week, another 168 MT of food was distributed, thus increasing the total amount of food aid that has reached drought affected families to 532 MT since the beginning of August 2001. Over 5,000 families in 11 of the most drought-affected municipalities in the eastern part of the country have thus received enough cereals to become food secure up to the beginning of November. Another 14,680 families are to be assisted over the coming weeks by the National Secretariat of the Family (SNF) as well as by a number of national and international NGO's (such as CARE, CRS, WLF, American Red Cross and Oikos).

b. Guatemala:

The Government's Social Cabinet declared on 3 September a state of "public calamity" in Guatemala due to irregular rains and problems of food security among the affected population. This is the previous stage before declaring a state of emergency.

Rains have begun to regularize in the centre, western and coastal areas. Farmers have begun planting maize for the second crop season. The Ministry of Agriculture reports food scarcity in municipalities of the Chiquimula province, particularly among the Chorti ethnic group in the mountainous areas. The most recent reports indicate that the number of affected people now reaches 12,948 families, not including Chiquimula. The El Progresso and Zacapa are the most affected provinces. On 31 August, 237 MT of maize, beans and vegetable oil were distributed in these areas. Also, 3.7 MT of CSB were sent to children's centres.

In response to reports of food insecurity in the Jocotan and Camotan provinces, an assessment mission will go to those areas. Representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, the Central American Nutritional Institute (INCAP), UNICEF, WFP and other agencies, will compose this mission.

The Ministry of Agriculture has approved a line of credit of 6 million Quetzals (about USD 765,000) for farmers that have been affected by the drought.

WFP is coordinating distribution arrangements with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and USAID. CRS will assist beneficiaries in the Chiquimula and Zacapa provinces, while WFP will be responsible for El Progreso, Santa Rosa, Baja Verapaz and Jalapa. Coordination is also taking place with UNICEF, INCAP, MSF and INTERVIDA, regarding the requirements of the affected population in the areas of nutrition and children. Base line studies will be prepared for areas where chronic hunger is present, starting with the province of Chiquimula.

c) Nicaragua

Drought

The first WFP distribution to the approximately 9,000 families that have been affected by the drought will take place on September 6, 2001.

Floods

The next WFP distribution to families affected by the flooding of the Prinzapolka River will be carried out during the second week of September.

A UNICEF team travelled to the Siuna - Prinzapolka region on 4 September to assess in situ whether to intervene with a water and sanitation component, fortified food and/or medicines (anti-malaria and anti-parasite).

The Ministry of Health and the NGO Acción Médica Cristiana (WFP's counterpart in the area) have organized a health brigade that is going to the flooded area around the Prinzapolka River to launch an anti-malaria and vaccination campaign.

2. Peru: Earthquake EMOP approval

WFP approved on 31 August EMOP 10102 "Assistance to Earthquake victims in Peru". This operation will have a 3-month duration and aims at providing assistance to 30,000 persons that are in a food insecure situation as a consequence of the 23 June earthquake.

As of 31 August, WFP had distributed some 220 MT of food in the provinces of Arequipa, Moquegua y Tacna. This distribution includes 7 MT distributed by a religious organization to 500 children whose homes were destroyed by the earthquake. So far, 12,990 persons have received WFP assistance, out of the targeted number of 20,000.

A donor's conference is to take place in Madrid on 22 October. Former UNSG Javier Perez Cuellar will assist. One of the projects that will be presented by the Peruvian Government is a WFP scheme aimed at assisting small farmers in the Andean region (Parinacochas, Lucanas y Paucar del Sara). Over 3,300 families would receive assistance to rehabilitate their irrigation systems that were affected by the earthquake.

3. ECUADOR: Situation Report

This week WFP will make a second delivery of food rations to the provinces of Tungurahua and Chimborazo for some 30,000 beneficiaries. The French Embassy, in collaboration with the WFP, will visit in Tungurahua, to deliver food rations some 1000 persons in five communities.

Studies conducted by the National Institute of Agricultural Investigations (NIAI), indicate that in order to recuperate the land for future agricultural production, it will be necessary to mix the fallen ash and soil with calcium carbonate to reduce the accumulated acid. NIAI reports that the falling volcanic ash provokes respiratory and digestive illnesses as well as skin ulcers. Those at risk must remain under shelter and receive uncontaminated food and water.