Warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures associated with El NiñoSouthern Oscillation (ENSO) continue to pose a serious threat to the Latin America and Caribbean region. Less-than-expected rainfall along Central America’s Dry Corridor and in Haiti remains an issue of concern, especially for the livelihoods of vulnerable communities. On a wider scope, projections for South America, particularly Peru, indicate potentially devastating effects of El Niño on the agricultural sector, directly affecting communities in highrisk areas for the coming months. Such impact in Peru, which include heavy rainfalls in the central/northern coast, freezing temperatures in the central highlands and drought in the south of the country is expected to be, if not equal, perhaps worse than the current worst-on-record El Niño occurrence in 1997. Additionally, predictions from official sources such as NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center indicate there is a 95% probability that El Niño weather patterns will continue well into the first months of 2016, reaching its maximum intensity between November 2015 and January 2016.
As per LWR’s previous related situation report – and despite recent disperse rainfall reported in certain areas during the past weeks – thousands of families in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador continue to experience food shortages as a consequence of the current/ongoing drought. As recently reported by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), 720,000 vulnerable children, women and men in droughtstricken regions of Guatemala are still in need of immediate assistance with acute malnutrition reaching over 700 cases. In Honduras and El Salvador, the latest estimated figures of people still requiring urgent assistance have reached 253,000 and 192,000 respectively.
In the Caribbean, Haiti has been experiencing extreme drought conditions in most departments. Latest government reports indicate that between 300,000 and 560,000 people are in urgent need of food assistance in 37 “communes” or municipalities –all under IPC Phase 3 (crisis). This food security crisis is due to low agricultural yields, which in turn has caused a sharp rise in food prices.
In South America, below-normal precipitation has brought drought conditions in areas of Venezuela and the north of Colombia where 20 departments have already reported agricultural losses. For the coming months, the reversed effect of above-normal precipitation is highly anticipated for the coastal areas of Ecuador, Peru and eastern lowlands of Bolivia.