Consecutive years of drought in Central America’s Dry Corridor have exacerbated acute food insecurity among poor households in Guatemala. In addition, Guatemala has the six-highest level of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Consecutive years of drought in Central America’s Dry Corridor—a region that encompasses a large portion of southern Guatemala—have resulted in poor harvests, lost labor opportunities, and reduced household incomes, making it more difficult for vulnerable families to access enough nutritious food.
Due to below-average agricultural production during the 2018–2019 harvest season, poor Dry Corridor households have begun to rely on markets to purchase food months earlier than usual, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). As a result, food-insecure households are increasingly employing negative coping strategies, such as using savings or selling assets, to meet their food needs, FEWS NET reports.
As a result, populations in the Dry Corridor will likely face Stressed (IPC 2) and Crisis (IPC 3) levels of acute food insecurity through at least March 2020, according to FEWS NET.*
*The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity. The IPC scale, which is comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal (IPC 1) to Famine (IPC 5).
In response to the drought crisis, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) supports Save the Children to provide cash transfers for food to approximately 42,000 food-insecure people in the Dry Corridor’s Quiché Department, enabling families to purchase nutritious foods in markets while supporting local economies and farmers. This activity also provides vulnerable households with training on agricultural best practices, livelihoods strategies and nutrition.
In addition, FFP partners with Catholic Relief Services to provide cash transfers for food to approximately 19,000 vulnerable individuals in the Dry Corridor’s Chiquimula, El Progreso and Zacapa departments, as well as to conduct training aimed at increasing agricultural production and livelihood opportunities, improving financial literacy and preventing malnutrition.
FFP also supports Project Concern International to provide cash transfers for food to nearly 30,000 vulnerable people in the Huehuetenango Department. The activity also works to increase livelihood opportunities and economic resilience by establishing women-run saving and loan groups, as well as to prevent malnutrition by promoting key health and nutrition messages.
Finally, in FY 2018, FFP supported two multi-year development activities that empowered communities to strengthen food security and resilience to shocks. Both programs ended in December 2018 with positive results.