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Guatemala Flash Appeal 2010
On 29 of May, two days after the Pacaya volcano eruption, the Republic of Guatemala was hit by the first tropical storm of the 2010 Pacific hurricane season, Agatha. More than 426 mm of rain fell in a short period of time, affecting 21 of the 22 departments of the country. To date, 174 people have been reported killed and 110 missing.
As a result of the heavy rainfall, several rivers have overflowed their banks, causing some 280 separate flood-related events. Heavy losses to the production of basic grains and limited access to food and seeds have aggravated the current food insecurity and acute malnutrition emergency. Guatemala, Central America’s most populous country, is experiencing high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of recurrent natural disasters, environmental degradation, inadequate agricultural infrastructure and poor agricultural policies, among other factors.
In response to the tropical storm, the United Nations and its partners launched the Guatemala Flash Appeal on 11 June 2010, seeking USD 15 533 045 to address the immediate needs of approximately 390 000 people who the Government currently reports to have been affected. An earlier appeal for Guatemala – the Food Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition Appeal, launched in March 2010 – is also currently active. Populations already receiving assistance under the ongoing Food Insecurity Appeal will not form part of the caseload of the Flash Appeal.
Challenges facing food security and livelihoods
The already fragile livelihoods of many small-scale farmers have deteriorated further with the passage of Tropical Storm Agatha. The majority of the affected population depends on subsistence farming or is engaged in daily labour in the agriculture sector. The loss of part or all agricultural production will make people more food-insecure and there is a serious risk that people will increasingly lack the purchasing power to meet their food needs.
Urgent support is required to ensure direct and immediate assistance to restore and protect the food availability and livelihoods of affected families. Replanting corn fields will be essential to ensure an adequate harvest in the months of August/September of this year.
Under the Guatemala Flash Appeal 2010, the Agriculture Cluster lead by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is seeking USD 2 574 696 to ensure food security among the population affected by Tropical Storm Agatha who rely on subsistence agriculture by supporting the production of basic grains and produce from backyard gardens, as well as the repair and rehabilitation of irrigation systems.
The loss of part or all agricultural production will make people more food-insecure, and damages caused by Tropical Storm Agatha are expected to worsen this situation. The intense rainfall may cause losses of the spring maize harvest, and other crops that were planted in April/May and expected to be harvested in August. FAO, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, local governments and NGOs will implement activities in order to restore the food base and assets of small- and medium-scale farmers. FAO’s proposed activities include the following:
- Distribution of technical input kits for the immediate replanting of basic grains. The support will be provided to rapidly restore household food supply and ensure the recovery of maize production.
- Providing agricultural assets for backyard food production (horticulture and livestock) in order to diversify the family diets.
- Rebuilding small irrigation systems and rehabilitating horticultural production.