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Hunger Spreads in Central America as Erratic Weather Continues

By Lisa Schlein August 11, 2019

U.N. agencies report more than two million people in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua are struggling to feed their families as crops fail for the fifth consecutive year due to erratic weather patterns.

An assessment carried out by the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and government institutions finds five years of drought and excessive rains have decimated maize and bean crops in the so-called Dry Corridor of Central America.

This geographical area is a tropical dry forest ecosystem that runs from Southern Mexico to Panama. The U.N. agencies say the area has been battered by the El Nino phenomena and abnormal weather related to climate change. And this, they say, has resulted in crop failure, ruined harvests and growing food shortages.

When farmers lose their crops and have no money to buy food, WFP spokesman, Herve Verhoosel, said they often migrate to cities, neighboring countries or further afield.

"Eight percent of families indicated that they were going to resort to migration, which the assessment classifies as an extreme coping strategy. Migration is not a solution. When a person migrates, those who are left behind continue to suffer from the cause of the migration. And, it takes almost five years to economically recover when one person migrates," said Verhoosel.

The U.N. assessment team finds 1.4 million of the two million people in the dry corridor affected by abnormal weather are in urgent need of food assistance. WFP reports it plans to provide aid to more than 700,000 of the most vulnerable.

Besides providing food aid, WFP says it also will help farmers adapt to climate change. This to make them more resilient to extreme weather events that are taking a heavy toll on their crops. The agency says it needs $72 million to pay for this humanitarian operation.

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