FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

FAO/WFP report warns of “hunger hotspots” in Latin America and the Caribbean

Quarterly report calls for urgent action to safeguard food security in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and Haiti.

Hurricanes in Central America have weakened food security.

July 29th 2021, Santiago, Chile- A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) highlights five “hunger hotspots” in Latin America and the Caribbean, and calls for action to help millions of people facing acute food insecurity.

According to the FAO and the WFP Hunger Hotspot quarterly report, Central America, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua face difficulties due to a possible reduction in crop harvests and the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colombia is being affected by social unrest and an economic downturn, while Haiti is hard hit by economic crisis, dry conditions, socio political unrest, and rising criminal-related insecurity.

Key drivers of food insecurity in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua

The food security situation in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras is expected to continue worsening––especially in the Dry Corridor––due to below-average rains that could threaten crop conditions, compounded by socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

High acute food insecurity is expected to affect about 3.3 million people in Honduras and 3.5 million people in Guatemala, while in Nicaragua around 300 000 people have insufficient food consumption and will likely see their food security worsen in the upcoming months.

The report suggests anticipatory actions tomitigate the impacts of rainfall deficits during the Primera agricultural season, and asks for support for the most vulnerable farmers and livestock raisers, including the distribution of ¡ inputs and tools to cultivate short cycle varieties and backyard gardening, and animal health support to reduce drought-induced mortality and morbidity.

It also advises countries to provide emergency response and livelihoods recovery support to hurricane-affected smallholder farmers and fishers in the most affected areas of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Colombia (including Venezuelan migrants)

The report highlights social instability and economic crisis as key drivers of food insecurity affecting Colombia, and the Venezuelan migrants in that country. The ongoing wave of protests could have implications on the food insecurity situation, despite favourable production prospects for the 2021 crop season.

According to the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview, there are 3.5 million acutely food insecure people in Colombia, and 73 percent of the 1.7 million Venezuelan migrant and refugee population in Colombia was severely food insecure in 2020. 

The FAO-WFP report suggests anticipatory actions to face this crisis, such as the distribution ofcash to the most vulnerable people in rural and urban areas, to mitigate the impact of expected increases in food prices on food security.

USD 34.6 million are required for food security, nutrition and livelihood interventions to support Venezuelan migrants and host communities in bordering rural areas by rehabilitating water systems, establishing areas for rapid food production, supporting rapid fodder production, and deliver emergency food and livelihood assistance.

Haiti

The combination of ongoing macroeconomic instability with the impact of dry conditions on the main cropping season, and a worsening security situation amidst a political crisis, are likely to result in a further deterioration of already high levels of acute food insecurity in Haiti.

Around 4.4 million people are estimated to face high acute food insecurity between March and June 2021, an increase of 6 percentage points in comparison to the same time last year.

The report calls for anticipatory actions, such as the distribution ofseeds of early maturing and drought-tolerant crop varieties by August to vulnerable households with access to land, in order to quickly revive production in areas affected by dryness; the drilling ofwells, and the distribution of forage, feed, nutrient supplements, water collection tanks and small livestock to vulnerable livestock breeders in drought-affected areas.

USD 156 million are needed for food security and livelihoods, and USD 5.2 million for nutrition interventions, to support productive safety nets through unconditional cash transfers accompanied by inputs and tools supplied to vulnerable households.