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Appeal No. 31/01; Launched on: 19 September 2001 for 6 months for 3,507,865 to assist 57,000 beneficiaries. Revised appeal launched on 19 October 2001 for CHF 3,507,865 for 6 months to assist 59,136 beneficiaries. Operation extended on 23 May 2002 until 19 August 2002.
Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocated: CHF 100,000
Period covered: 20 September 2001 - 31 October 2002 ; last Operations Update (no. 2) issued 23 May 2002.
Appeal coverage: 66.7%
Related Appeals: 01.20/2002 Guatemala; 01.48/2003 Guatemala; 01.21/2002 Honduras; 01.19/2002 Central America; 01.50/2003 Central America
In 2001, Central America suffered a third consecutive year of acute shortage of rainfall, especially in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Lack of rain since June 2001 resulted in food deficits, as subsistence farmers' crops of maize and beans withered and died. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 1.5 million people were affected by drought, of whom 695,000 faced critical food insecurity problems. Continued lack of rainfall in the region was compounded by a series of aggravating factors including the dramatic plunge in coffee prices. This led to the closure of coffee plantations forcing thousands out of work, particularly in Nicaragua, as well as depriving small holders and landless labourers of their sole source of income.
The response of the Federation, with funding provided by the Finnish Red Cross, the Icelandic Red Cross, a Japanese private donor, the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Monaco Red Cross, the Norwegian government/Red Cross and the Swedish government/Red Cross was complemented by the response of several PNS and bilateral contributions from: the American Red Cross, the British Red Cross, the German government, the Netherlands Red Cross, the Spanish Red Cross, the Swiss government and the World Food Programme, working towards the objectives outlined in the Federation appeal.
In El Salvador, an average of 80 per cent of the maize crop was lost in four departments in the east of the country: San Miguel, Morazán, La Unión and Usulután. The strong earthquakes of January and February 2001 resulted in a reduction in the areas planted and, in addition, the onset of the "red tide", a harmful algae which contaminated seafood, resulted in loss of income for fishermen. The government initiated the "Plan Sembrador" to attend to the needs of 62 of the most severely affected municipalities.
In Guatemala, in early September 2001, 41 people (mainly children) died of malnutrition in the municipalities of Jocotán and Camotán, department of Chiquimula, north eastern Guatemala, as a result of crop failure and poverty. An assessment conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in Jocotán showed that 865 children were moderately malnourished and 258 were severely malnourished.
In Honduras, the government declared a state of emergency in the south, centre and west on 23 July 2001, where 149 municipalities were severely affected by drought, with 95 municipalities in the departments of Choluteca, Valle, El Paraíso and Francisco Morazán suffering more than 50 per cent grain loss.
In Nicaragua, drought particularly affected the north and north west regions, where farmers lost virtually all their maize and bean crop. The departments most affected by the drought and the food insecurity for the last three years, were the same ones affected by hurricane Mitch in 1998.
In Panama, the absence of rain generated agricultural and livestock losses, particularly in the Peninsula de Azuero. In Costa Rica, several provinces were affected by the influx of displaced persons from Nicaragua.
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