Honduras + 2 more

Tri-national Border of Rio Lempa: Acute Food Insecurity Situation October 2019 - January 2020 and Projected February - May 2020

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How serious, how many and when: 17% of the population of the Tri-National Region is in severe acute food insecurity (Phases 3 and 4 of the IPC), representing 80,000 people in food Crisis or Emergency, for the period October 2019 to January 2020, which is the harvest period for basic grains and coffee. The proportion of the population in severe acute food insecurity is likely to increase to 26%, which represents 120,000 people in food Crisis or Emergency, for the projected period from February to May 2020, when agricultural activity drops due to the cessation of rains.

Where and who: The most affected populations, in Phase 3 and 4, are: for the current period, it is the Chortí Microregion with 62,000 people (28%). In the projected period, the Chortí microregion increases to 89,000 people (40%), and the Ocotepeque micro-region in Honduras will likely increase to 14,000 people (20%) in these phases. These people are mainly indigenous people of the Chortí ethnic group, subsistence farmers and jormaleros or small producers of coffee and vegetables.

CURRENT SITUATION OVERVIEW (October 2019 – January 2020)

The analysis has included four micro-regions of the Rio Lempa Tri-national Border Community, which are part of the Central American Dry Corridor, which are Chorti, Güija, Ocotepeque and Cayaguanca, totaling 474,436 inhabitants. According to the livelihood zones, most of these micro-regions belong to the area of basic grains and livestock, as well as subsistence, remittances and coffee.

The production cycles of Primera and Postrera have had lower than normal yields due to decreased and irregular rainfall in the months of June and August, and excess humidity in the month of October, mainly in the micro-regions of Guija and Chorti. Producers in the dry corridor region report damage to maize and bean crops, mainly in the areas of production in the Primera cycle in the Chortí and Güija micro-regions (Guatemala). At the end of this period, the season of demand for coffee labour begins, which will be limited by the reduction in production volumes due to lack of investment in management.

Low yields in basic grains and limited job supply in the months of the second half of 2019 are very likely to lead to food stocks depletion at the household level towards the end of the year, and some households will therefore have been forced to adopt Crisis or Emergency coping strategies. Under normal conditions, the coffee harvest is a major source of day labour from November onwards in some of the departments analysed, but the fall in international coffee prices could reduce demand for day labour significantly, which could aggravate the food insecurity of coffee-dependent households. As for the behaviour of food prices in the micro-regions analysed, there is an increase in prices of basic grains, mainly white corn, compared to the five year average and 2018, and fuel prices in general have had a slight downward trend, but up in relation to the last 5 years, which could be maintained for the period of the current situation.

PROJECTED SITUATION OVERVIEW (February – May 2020)

The population of the areas analysed for the projected situation is 474,436 inhabitants. In the period between February and May 2020, it is assumed that the family reserves of basic grains will be depleted by the low production in the aftermath of 2019.

With the onset of the dry season, prices of basic grains are expected to rise. The end of the coffee harvest will substantially reduce household income options, and international coffee prices will continue to fall, affecting mainly small producers. Also, in some microregions, increased rainfall in late October will lead to significant losses in fruit, vegetable, coffee and basic grain crops, exacerbating the employment shortages that are characteristic of the second half of this period. This will consequently limit access to food that must be purchased, as reserves will not be optimal to meet food needs as in normal times.

The variables considered in food utilisation will have a similar behaviour to the current one in most micro-regions.

In the Cayaguanca micro-region an improvement is expected, both in the availability and access to food, however, in the Chorti, Güija and Ocotepeque micro-regions a deterioration is expected. The production cycles of the First and Last Regions have had lower than normal yields due to the decrease and irregularity of rainfall in the months of June to August, mainly in Guatemala, and due to excess humidity in the month of October in all micro-regions. It is very likely that the low yields of basic grains and limited supply of jobs in the months of the second half of 2019 will impact the availability and access to food during this projected period (February to May 2020). The drop in the international price of coffee could reduce the demand for labour and the value of wages significantly, which would imply an increase in food insecurity for these households. As for the behaviour of food and fuel prices, in the micro-regions analysed, they would present a slight increase for the period analysed, and in general would maintain a behaviour similar to the trends observed in previous years for this projected period.