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Irregular rainfall continues to affect poorest households in the Central American Dry Corridor and Haiti

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • July 2019 - January 2020
Irregular rainfall continues to affect poorest households in the Central American Dry Corridor and Haiti

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Irregular rainfall and higher than average temperatures caused by El Niño event are likely to induce crop losses in the Dry Corridor for the Primera agricultural campaign. Average basic grain production is expected in the rest of the region.

    • Irregular rainfall and higher than average temperatures caused by El Niño event are likely to induce crop losses in the Dry Corridor for the Primera agricultural campaign. Average basic grain production is expected in the rest of the region.

    • The maize and bean harvest have started in Haiti, particularly in Grand’Anse, Nippes and the Southern Wet Mountains. While in the irrigated plains, maize and beans harvest are likely to be average, the drought-prone areas, including the Far North and coastal areas (Nippes, South) are likely to see significant crop losses.

    • Currently, in Central America, the income generation for the poorest households depends on the sale of their labor for basic grain crop preparation. In Guatemala, small coffee farmers who have not been able to recover from the coffee rust crisis were affected by the low selling prices of the 2018-2019 season.

    • Poor households will continue to depend on the market and rely on coping strategies to access non-food basic needs and will be facing Stress (IPC, Phase 2) food security outcomes. However, in Guatemala and Haiti, Crisis (IPC, Phase 3) outcomes will continue to affect the areas most affected by irregular rainfall, where the poorest households engage in negative coping strategies to access food.



    • Livelihoods are deteriorating as a result of high commodity prices and the persisting drought hampering the spring 2019 growing season, particularly in the north of the country. The poorest households continue to engage in negative coping strategies to meet their food needs. As a result, most regions remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.
    • Markets are constantly supplied, both with local products (especially in the Greater South) and imported products. Although the price of imported rice remains above average, it remains relatively stable compared to other products.
    • The maize and bean crops planted in February are beginning to be harvested, particularly in Grand’Anse and the wet mountain areas of Nippes and Sud. Meanwhile, in the irrigated plains, maize and bean plantations forecast good harvests. However, the situation is difficult in drought-prone areas, particularly the Greater North and coastal areas (Nippes and Sud).

    For more information, see the Haiti Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020.


    • With El Niño conditions forecast up to January 2020, the rains began in the country in early June. Despite irregular distribution, rainfall during May and June could reach or exceed the average, enabling adequate growth of Primera crops, with the exception of the Dry Corridor, where erratic and scarce rainfall and high temperatures could cause crop losses.
    • Crops cultivated by poor households in the highlands are developing normally, with average harvests expected. Access to food will improve from October onwards when the seasonal demand for labor emerges. However, food security will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to households depending on the markets for produce earlier than usual (since 2018), which has reduced households’ ability to recover and improve their diets.
    • In the Dry Corridor, rainfall deficits and high temperatures will reduce maize and bean yields. While sources of seasonal employment will increase in October, income will be insufficient to compensate for the continued dependence on the markets and use of negative coping strategies. As such, poorer households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the period.
    • Small-scale coffee farmers, whose plantations have not recovered from the damage caused by leaf rust from 2012 onwards, were affected by the low market prices of the 2018–2019 harvest. These consecutive impacts on their livelihoods have meant less investment in crop maintenance, thus putting next season’s yields at risk.

    For more information, see the Guatemala Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020.

    Remote monitoring countries: Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua

    • The weak El Niño event forecast shows a 55 percent probability of the event continuing this season, meaning that irregularities in the temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall will continue, potentially affecting Primera planting in areas of the region focused on producing basic grains.
    • Due to the lack of crops and stocks, the poorest farmers’ families will rely on the market to supply their food from June to September. They will adopt coping strategies such as purchasing less nutritious food, spacing out mealtimes, reducing portion sizes and migrating to urban centers or other countries in the region to earn money to enable them to fully meet their basic food needs.
    • It is estimated that prices for basic grains will start to rise from June onwards, as the period of greatest shortage will be beginning. Maize prices will continue to behave similarly to last year and will be above the five-year average, while red bean prices will remain stable, with below-average trends.
    • Income generation for vulnerable families currently depends on employment, mainly in planting basic grains. However, regions close to agricultural holdings with a commercial focus will offer employment opportunities in horticultural and tropical fruit production.
    • Due to declining livelihoods, crop losses and rising commodity prices, the most affected areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until January 2020.

    For more information, see the El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua Remote Monitoring Update for June 2019.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Central America

    Increase in fuel prices

    Increase in basic food prices

    Central America

    First regular rainy season

    Improved availability of basic grains from own crops

    Central America

    Stockpiling of maize or beans due to harvest losses

    Could cause an atypical increase in maize and bean prices

    Central America

    Stronger-than-average hurricane season during the second rainy season or a hurricane that reaches land and becomes a tropical storm

    Could cause flooding in low-lying areas and areas surrounding rivers, affecting household livelihoods and transportation for supplying the markets


    Socio-political unrest

    Reduced market supply, inflation and reduced food consumption in the poorest households


    Worsening of the depreciation of the gourde

    Increased prices and deteriorating access to imported food


    A significant climatic shock: drought, flooding.

    Crop losses and reduced food availability

    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.

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