Guatemala: Food Insecurity and Drought Appeal no. MDRGT009, Operations Update no. 3

Situation Report
Originally published
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According to the Food Security Outlook Update - August 2016 published by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), rainfall is expected to increase, resulting in near-average national harvests for the Primera and Postrera seasons. There are reports of localized damage to staple crops in low-lying areas of eastern and western parts of the dry corridor due to the erratic distribution of rainfall and cumulative rainfall deficits for the season; however, the damage is less severe than last year.

The poorest households in the Western Temperate Highlands remained in crisis mode (IPC Phase 3) until October 2016, when income-generating opportunities improved seasonally; their status has since been upgraded to “Stressed” (IPC Phase 2) as of January 2017 because they now have food reserves from their December 2016 harvests at their disposal.

According to the Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala (INSIVUMEH), the winter of 2015 was severely affected by the El Niño phenomenon; satellite estimates indicated that the accumulated rainfall was the lowest in the last 35 years, especially in the region known as the Dry Corridor.

The drought affected households in the western region by reducing the production of basic grains, income and access to employment. In the particular case of Guatemala, 2016 was the third consecutive year in which small farmers were affected by the scarcity of rain. According to the reports issued by Action Against Hunger, 50 per cent of the rural population exhausted their mechanisms of survival in 2016, and by the end of the year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food reported that there were more than 110,000 food insecure families due to the drought.

In January 2016, Guatemala Red Cross carried out a detailed evaluation of families in the rural areas of the Chiché and Patzite municipalities in the department of Quiché, which determined that all of the interviewed families experienced losses of more than 50 per cent; in addition, more than 35 per cent of families were implementing survival strategies that included the sale of livestock and physical assets.