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WFP El Niño in Latin America and the Caribbean External Situation Report #1, 30 May 2016

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KEY CONSIDERATIONS

• ‘El Niño’ phenomenon causes extreme climate anomalities with impact on hydrological cycles, livelihoods, and agriculture.

• There is no clear correlation between ‘El Niño’ intensity and the impacts caused by drought on agricultural production.

• ‘El Niño’ emerges under pre-established drought conditions in Central America and the Caribbean Region.

• The negative effects exacerbated bad conditions across the continent, with particular impact in the Dry Corridor of Central American, La Española Island, dry areas of Colombia, and flood-prone zones in South America.

• ‘El Niño’ could negatively affect the Primera season of 2016 in Central America due to a late and irregular start of the rainy season.

GENERAL OVERVIEW

• According to the XLIX Climate Forum, the El Niño phenomenon is entering a phase of decline, yet it sill presents a direct threat and challenge to food security. Latin America is already a region particularly vulnerable to climate change and variability. El Niño aggravates these conditions by bringing poor spatial and temporal distribution of rainfalls, impacting people’s food and nutrition security and livelihoods. In Central America and the Caribbean, the rainy season from May to July is likely to see a poor distribution of rainfall during a critical stage of the crop development, which would significantly affect crop production.

• As El Niño worsens, it puts additional strain on existing capacities and increases vulnerability among Latin America and the Caribbean’s populations, further soliciting the need for humanitarian intervention and response.

• El Niño has affected LAC in different ways: ⇒ It exacerbated the drought in Central America, especially in the Dry Corridor, severely affecting food security following a fourth year of drought and extended dry spells; ⇒ Intensifying the drought in the Caribbean, especially in Haiti, and in the north of South America; ⇒ Severe weather events throughout South America including intense floods along the Pacific coast of Ecuador, Peru and Chile, and drought in the highlands of these countries. Uruguay,
Paraguay and Argentina will likely see more intense rainfall (CIIFEN, 2015); ⇒ These extreme weather events have affected thousands of people through agricultural losses, loss of homes, damages to infrastructure, landslides, and loss of life.

• What has been one of the strongest El Nino’s in history is reportedly nowt transitioning to a La Niña phenomenon which has the potential to enhance the Atlantic Hurricane Season in 2016.
The surface water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean continue to show positive anomalies linked to El Niño . Although in decreasing trend, these anomalies are expected to continue for the period of May to July 2016 incising in a more active than normal Hurricane season. As for the Pacific, less activity is anticipated.