Skip to main content

Significant socio-political disruptions in Haiti continue; below-average rainfall forecast across the region

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • February 2023
Significant socio-political disruptions in Haiti continue; below-average rainfall forecast across the region

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Key Messages
    • In Haiti, gang violence has continued to increase, year-on-year, characterized by attacks and kidnappings concentrated mainly in the departments of Nord-Ouest, Artibonite, and the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Within Port-au-Prince, the areas of Cité Soleil, Croix des Bouquets, Martissant, and Pétion-Ville are particularly affected, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in Cité Soleil as violence disrupts livelihood activities and severely limits humanitarian access. Meanwhile, a combination of high inflation and drought conditions in agricultural production zones are driving widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across the country, with some rural households in Nord-Ouest, Grand’Anse, and Sud departments likely facing in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    • Persistent below-average rainfall across Haiti not only reduced fall and winter harvests to below-average but is expected to negatively impact the spring harvest in June and July. Poor harvest expectations will force producing households to rely more on market purchases to meet their food needs and also further reduce the availability of key staple crops in the market. Haiti already relies heavily on imports, the prices of which have been steadily rising due to illegal gang taxes on trade routes. These factors, along with the depreciation of the HTG, are likely to drive continual price spikes, even as staple food prices have already more than doubled compared to the five-year average.

    • In Central America, most poor rural households across the region have been able to partially offset above-average prices due to near-average income earned during peak demand for agricultural labor. Through May, most areas will continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, but as labor opportunities diminish and the annual lean season sets in, minimal stocks of staple grain and the high cost of living will push these households to further limit the quality and quantity of food consumed and employ additional coping strategies. An increase in households experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes is most likely during the peak of the lean season between June and August, with additional areas experiencing these outcomes, especially in the Dry Corridor in Guatemala and localized areas of Honduras and El Salvador, which saw significant 2022 harvest losses. In some areas of the Dry Corridor, Western Highlands, and Alta Verapaz in Guatemala, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely for the duration of the outlook period as poorer households in these areas have been unable to recover from the shocks of recent years.

    • Climate forecasts for the region indicate high probabilities of below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures, resulting in an irregular start to the primera season and delays in planting. Although national staple grain production is still expected to be within average ranges across all four countries, thanks to irrigation for commercial growers, subsistence farmers continue to face above-average prices for agricultural inputs that will limit their cropped area, while below-average rainfall will result in moderate crop losses, reducing their anticipated harvests for the season to below-average.


    Outlook by Country

    Haiti

    • The impacts of gang violence on the economy, high inflation on household purchasing power, and atypical drought conditions on production are severely limiting poor households' access to income and adequate food. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to remain widespread across the country, with some households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in rural areas of the Nord-Ouest, Grand'Anse, and Sud departments. In addition, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will likely persist in Cité Soleil – the most affected area of Port-au-Prince – as gang violence continues to cut off access to humanitarian assistance and significantly disrupt livelihood activities.
    • Rainfall from September through December 2022 was below average, resulting in below-average fall and winter harvests in much of the country, particularly in the irrigated plains and humid mountains of the south.  In addition, the first rainy season from April-May 2023 is also expected to be below average, most likely resulting in a below-average spring harvest in June/July. While domestic agricultural production typically accounts for only about 20 percent of the annual food needs of very poor and poor households, the declining availability of rice, corn, tubers, and bananas exacerbates the impact of reduced purchasing power on their food consumption.
    • Haiti's heavy reliance on imports-which account for more than half of all food consumed, including about 80 percent of total rice consumption-and high global food and fuel prices, depreciation of the gourde (HTG), and illegal taxation by gangs on trade routes continue to drive up prices of staple foods and reduce household access to food. According to Haiti's central bank, the HTG lost nearly 33 percent of its value against the USD between February 2022 and February 2023, reaching over 149 HTG/USD in February 2023. Consecutively, staple food prices more than doubled compared to the five-year average, with the price of corn and black beans (HTG/six pounds) increasing by about 60 to 70 percent compared to last year.
    • The socio-political situation has deteriorated considerably. According to ACLED, the number of incidents and deaths perpetrated by gangs nearly doubled between February 2022 and February 2023. As gangs seek to expand their territory, violence is characterized by attacks and kidnappings of civilians, particularly in the departments of Nord-Ouest, Artibonite, and the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where the areas of Cité Soleil, Croix des Bouquets, Martissant, and Pétion-Ville are particularly affected. This is significantly disrupting the functioning of markets and the ability of households to engage in income-generating activities. In affected rural areas, violence periodically disrupts trade flows and limits the ability of households to travel to larger markets to engage in petty trade and work.
    • For more information, see the Haiti Food Security Outlook for February to September 2023

    Guatemala

    • In localized areas of the Dry Corridor, Western Highlands, and Alta Verapaz, poorer households will experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes throughout the outlook period. The various shocks of the past several years have not allowed them to recover their livelihoods. In addition, they started this year with atypically high debts and no household stocks of staple grains for their consumption. Thus, they will enter the annual lean season prematurely and will depend on market purchases earlier than usual and at prices well above average. To meet their minimum food needs, households will resort to unsustainable coping strategies that will continue to put their livelihoods at risk.
    • Meanwhile, the other poor rural households were able to count on stable employment during the season of high agricultural labor demand, partially offsetting the above-average prices and allowing for a slight reduction in food insecurity for a few months. However, with the high cost of living and minimal stocks of staple grains, households will begin to limit the quality and quantity of food consumed and employ coping strategies that will result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May. The continual increase in staple grain prices to very high levels until the primera harvest and the seasonal lack of work at the local level will cause an increase in households experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through September, especially throughout the Dry Corridor.
    • The forecast of high temperatures coupled with below-average rainfall will negatively affect agricultural activities during the primera cycle. While national staple grain production is expected to be within average ranges, below-average harvests for subsistence farmers will negatively affect the potential reserves of those poorer households that manage to plant even a little and will push them to continue to rely on market purchases. 
    • The purchasing power of poor households will remain limited by the rate of increase in the cost of living. Newly generated income is being allocated to the purchase of basic foodstuffs and to the payment of atypical debts, limiting the savings capacity of poor households to compensate for seasonal factors in the lean season. Food prices will remain stable, following seasonal trends but remaining above the five-year average. The general economy will continue to recover, with lower inflation than last year, although both headline and food inflation will remain well above normal. Various economic sectors are expected to maintain their level of activity but with incomes below pre-pandemic levels. During land preparation, planting, and fertilizer use, rural households dedicate a few days a month to cultivating their land and engaging in these activities to earn income. This year, employment opportunities for the cultivation of maize and beans will be reduced due to cutbacks in production costs and the projected decrease in rainfall.

    For more information, see the Guatemala Food Security Outlook for February to September 2023.

    Remote Monitoring Countries1

    El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua

    • Beginning in February 2023, a seasonal and gradual deterioration of food security in the region is expected as seasonal trends are exacerbated by the effects of inflation. Households will mitigate reduced food access with the use of coping strategies, such as decreasing food quality and variety, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, with pockets of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through May 2023.
    • For the second analysis period, from June to September, the food security situation will deteriorate further, reaching the peak of the annual lean season in August. Availability will improve with the arrival of the primera harvest in September. During this time, most households in the region will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in all three countries. However, the harvest losses suffered from excess moisture in 2022 in Honduras and El Salvador, the long dependence on market purchases for worst-affected households, and the anticipated reductions in yields and harvests for subsistence producers in the Dry Corridor during this year’s primera season, will mean continued low availability of staple grains during the time of year households have the lowest purchasing power. Therefore, worst-affected areas of Honduras and El Salvador are likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until September.
    • The climate forecasts suggest irregular and below-average rainfall throughout the primera season, which will likely delay plantings and mean moderate crop losses for subsistence farmers, especially in the Dry Corridor. In addition, considering the reduction in fertilizer application and high costs of agricultural inputs – similar to 2022 – there will be a reduction in cropped area and in yields for small producers. However, the impact will be less for commercial growers with irrigation, who will contribute with near-average national production in all three countries.
    • Given that pre-existing macroeconomic factors and local market dynamics will likely keep inflation above average, access to food will remain limited throughout the analysis period, characterized by a seasonal decline in income and demand for labor in rural areas. However, inflation rates are expected to decline gradually, which will also allow for a decrease in the cost of living and in the prices of various services and products, including food. Given seasonal dynamics until the primera harvest comes out at the end of August/September, prices of staple grains are expected to remain well above the five-year average in all three countries, especially for red beans, which have shown the sharpest increases.

    For more information, see the El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua Remote Monitoring Update for February to September 2023


    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    RegionalFuel, food and transportation prices beyond current projectionsSignificant increases in the price of fuel, food, fertilizers, and transportation prices could cause additional increases along supply chains and further reduce access to food for the poorest households, increasing the population facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and, in Haiti, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.
    RegionalImprovements or further deterioration of rainfall and temperature forecasts  Rainfall further below average than anticipated or temperatures higher than those anticipated would cause further reductions in yields and harvests, a higher dependency on the market, and increases in populations in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or, in Haiti, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Meanwhile, improvements in rainfall conditions to near-average would positively affect crop development and eventual harvests, as well as water availability for livestock, reducing the number of households across the region experiencing acute food insecurity.
    RegionalExpansion of food assistance programmingSignificant increases in food assistance would improve household-level outcomes for those receiving assistance and likely result in impacted areas reducing the severity of their classification from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).
    HaitiReduction in socio-political unrest/military intervention, following the dispatch of a multinational forceThe reduction in violence would have a positive impact on the functioning of the economy and markets, leading to a rapid recovery of formal and informal activities. This would improve food availability and access, reducing the number of households adopting negative strategies. As a result, fewer areas and households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Cité Soleil, the situation would be likely to improve from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    HaitiNormal distribution of fuel and its sale at normal prices throughout the countryAll companies and institutions, including hospitals, will resume their normal working hours. Lower transportation costs will help reduce inflation. As a result, fewer areas would be food insecure in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

     


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for the Central America and the Caribbean region

    Source: FEWS NET

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Latin America and the Caribbean Food Security Outlook. March 2023: Significant socio-political disruptions in Haiti continue; below-average rainfall forecast across the region, 2023. 

    1

    With remote monitoring, an analyst typically works from a nearby regional office, relying on a network of partners for data. Compared to countries above, where FEWS NET has a local office, reporting on remote monitoring countries may offer less detail.

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top