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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity continues due to erratic rainfall and high prices

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Guatemala
  • June 2014
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity continues due to erratic rainfall and high prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Highly coffee-dependent municipalities in the Eastern and altiplano regions are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2). From July to September, households in these areas will face Crisis levels (IPC Phase 3), and will rely on negative coping strategies to meet basic food needs, due to two years of poor harvests and low incomes.
    • From June to September, the remaining municipalities in the Eastern region and the Western altiplano will be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2), due to food shortages. In some localized areas of these municipalities, households will face Crisis food insecurity, although they account for less than 20 percent of the population in these areas.
    • Poor Primera and Postrera harvests are forecast as a result of the El Niño phenomenon and projected poor distribution of rainfall. Lower reserves and higher prices for basic grains will reduce access to food by households affected by two consecutive years of crop losses and loss of income from coffee-related activities.

    Current Situation
    • The Primera season has begun throughout almost the entire country. Rainfall totals for May and the first half of June were above normal for most of the country, with a number of mudslides and flooding caused by overflowing rivers. However, a number of areas in the Eastern region, particularly El Progreso, recorded a significant water shortage as of the end of May, forcing farmers to replant crops. The rains following Tropical Storm Boris in early June improved soil moisture, even in those areas where replanting was necessary.
    • According to a June 1 FAO report, the poorest households in all regions of the country have already depleted their reserves of basic grains, with the exception of households in the Northern region, where reserves are expected to run out during the current month. This situation is characteristic of the annual lean season; this year, however, reserves were depleted two months earlier than usual, as a result of crop losses incurred during last year’s Primera season.
    • Forecasts made by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in their mid-June report suggest a 65 percent probability that the El Niño phenomenon will occur during the July-September quarter. According to INSIVUMEH’s monthly outlook, Chiquimula, Jalapa and Jutiapa, and parts of El Progreso and Guatemala departments, will experience below-average rainfall, while rainfall in most of the departments of Santa Rosa, Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, and Baja Verapaz, and parts of El Progreso, southern Quiché, and Alta Verapaz, will be near average. In the rest of the country, above-normal rainfall is expected.
    • Even though both wholesale and consumer prices for black beans and white maize show increases that could be the result of typical seasonal trends, significant variations are apparent when these prices are compared with those in January 2014. Although these differences are due primarily to a reduction in the supply of both products in the national market, the causes vary. In the case of white maize, these variations exhibit a trend that is similar, though less pronounced, to that observed in 2011, when maize prices were atypically above average due to low 2010 harvests and high international prices. Prices are currently returning to the levels observed prior to the sharp drop of a few months ago, likely the result of Primera crop losses last year, which decreased availability and increased demand at the household level. In the case of black beans, stockpiling and atypical demand from Costa Rica are the primary factors behind the increases reported.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used by FEWS NET to develop the most likely food security scenario for the period between April and September 2014 have been modified as follows:

    • INSIVUMEH predicts that the canícula will occur in July, and perhaps even as early as June 25 in some areas of the Eastern and Western regions, and will have a duration of between 20 and 35 days. The areas where this phenomenon will last the longest are the Pacific coastal strip, the western portion of Huehuetenango, the central region, the Chortí area, and parts of Baja Verapaz and El Progreso. These forecasts call for a prolonged canícula with the potential to generate a negative impact on Primera crop development in the above-mentioned areas of the country.

    Projected Outlook through September 2014
    • Given the high likelihood of an El Niño phenomenon, and forecasts calling for a prolonged canícula and scant, erratic rainfall during the remainder of the Primera season, which will conclude in August/September, projections call for crop damage and losses, particularly, though not exclusively, in areas of the dry corridor. For subsistence households, a smaller harvest will mean a decrease in food reserves and, consequently, increased dependence on purchases. Given the increase in basic grains prices, access by these households to food will decrease considerably. As a result of decreased rainfall, soil moisture will be low and accordingly a delay in planting crops in the Postrera season is predicted. In addition, projections call for possible water stress resulting from the continued scarcity of rainfall. As a result, a below-average harvest is forecast for this season, the consequences of which will not be apparent until after September 2014.
    • For the July-September quarter, the Crisis classification (IPC Phase 3) remains in effect for certain municipalities in the Eastern and altiplano regions, since the poorest households will have to resort to accelerated depletion of their productive assets in order to partially offset their lack of income. The remaining municipalities in these regions will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). As mentioned in previous FEWS NET reports, households headed by women are particularly vulnerable, in view of their limited options for income generation.

    Figure 1


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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