Honduras + 4 more

Central America and Caribbean Key Message Update: Impacts of hurricanes Eta and Iota will contribute to high food assistance needs in 2021, December 2020


Key Messages

  • The impacts of hurricanes Eta and Iota are exacerbating the food security situation in Central America, which was already affected by several consecutive years of poor rainfall and the COVID-19 pandemic. Macroeconomic challenges, drought, and socioeconomic instability are also driving food insecurity in Haiti. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected throughout the region through at least May 2021.

  • In November, Central America was hit by two Category 4 hurricanes, Eta and Iota. The hurricanes directly affected more than 6 million people, damaged over 200,000 hectares of staple food and cash crops, killed livestock and damaged fishing equipment, and destroyed critical infrastructure. As a result, access to food and income will remain limited for poor households until the primera harvest in September 2021. Furthermore, there is heightened concern for negative health outcomes and an increase in COVID-19 cases due to damaged water and sewage infrastructure, lack of access to clean water, and overcrowding in shelters. The worst-affected areas include northern and eastern Guatemala, northeastern Nicaragua, and northern Honduras. Eastern and western El Salvador were affected to a lesser extent.

  • In Central America, the combined impacts of prior drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the hurricanes will lead to atypically high food assistance needs in 2021. Over 4 million people are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, particularly in parts of rural northeastern Nicaragua, the Caribbean basin of Honduras, northern and eastern Guatemala, western and eastern El Salvador, and the Central American Dry Corridor. Updated maps reflecting revised food security outcomes are forthcoming in December.

  • In Haiti, rising civil unrest risks further deterioration in food security outcomes due to related disruptions to market supply and trade flows. Meanwhile, foreign exchange shortages are once again leading to depreciation of the HTG despite interventions by the Central Bank. Consequently, the prices of imported food products are beginning to increase after a three-month decline, which will negatively affect household purchasing power. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to become more widespread during the 2021 lean season, which will begin as early as March.