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Central America and Caribbean: Acute food insecurity remains widespread as the lean season progresses in the region

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Rural and urban livelihoods in Central America and Haiti continue to be negatively affected by low household purchasing power, which is linked to under- and unemployment during the pandemic, loss of crops and agricultural labor income during the 2020/2021 production year, rising food and fuel prices, and insecurity. During the lean season, many poor households continue to have food consumption gaps or adopt crisis or stressed coping strategies, such as taking on debt and selling productive assets. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are widespread.

In Central America, access to food is limited among poor rural and urban households. The price of several staple foods, especially beans, shows a rising trend due to below-average regional production and high transportation costs. Additionally, household income remains below normal amid a slow, uneven economic recovery during the pandemic. Food assistance needs are highest in rural areas, where household food availability and income are at an annual low during the ongoing lean season. The population requiring urgent food assistance will steadily rise until the start of the primera harvest in mid-to-late August.

The primera harvest in Central America in August/September is currently expected to be near average, driven by medium and large producers and an early, favorable start of the rainfall season in most of the region. However, smallholder farmers in the Dry Corridor and hurricane-affected areas may experience yield losses on the household level due to the impact of high fertilizer prices, localized poor soil conditions, and localized irregular rainfall on cereal and bean production.

In Haiti, above-average rainfall between March and April favored planting and development of printemps crops in most farming areas. However, production is limited among some poor rural households due to the high price of seeds and the loss of income from preceding poor harvests. Further, localized floods and rainfall deficits have negatively affected production in the Nord/Nord-est departments and the Haut Plateau, respectively. In urban areas, especially Port-au-Prince, persistent insecurity and violence continue to significantly disrupt livelihoods, trade flows, and economic activities. Poor urban households face difficulties in physical access to markets and high, above-average staple food prices.

From May to September, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will persist in hurricane-affected areas of northern Guatemala, northern and southern Honduras, and northwestern Nicaragua; the Dry Corridor of Central America; parts of the coffee-producing livelihood zone in western El Salvador; and several areas of Haiti. However, the printemps harvest in Haiti in June/July, the primera harvest in Central America, and the start of the peak season of labor demand will likely somewhat reduce the magnitude of the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by late August or September.