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Acute food insecurity will likely remain widespread despite gradual economic reopening

  • Key Message Update
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • August 2020
Acute food insecurity will likely remain widespread despite gradual economic reopening

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The gradual reopening of local and global economies is facilitating some improvement in economic activity, leading to improved remittance flows and access to income sources. However, significant COVID-19 restrictions remain in place in the region. For example, the Haitian-Dominican border remains closed on the Dominican side, while public transportation remains suspended in several economic hubs in Guatemala. Poor urban and rural households continue to have difficulty meeting their food and non-food needs. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are prevalent.

    • The start of the average Primera harvest in Central America and below-average spring harvest in Haiti, coupled with relative improvements in market operations since the start of COVID-19, is driving marginal improvements in household food availability and access. The harvests are anticipated to drive a seasonal decline in staple food prices in Central America and to stabilize staple food prices in Haiti. Nevertheless, prices in key reference markets are expected to remain above the five-year average.

    • The upcoming Postrera harvest in Central America and the summer/fall and winter harvests in Haiti are unlikely to notably improve food security outcomes. In Central America, favorable rainfall and near-normal commercial agricultural activity is expected to result in near-average maize and bean harvests, but public transportation restrictions will limit poor households’ ability to access labor opportunities on cash crop and coffee farms. In Haiti, planted area is expected to be below normal since farmers will have reduced seeds and income after the preceding spring harvest. Further, in Haiti, fuel scarcity and continued depreciation of the HTG is anticipated to lead to increases in staple food prices.

    • In July, the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA) issued an alert on the outbreak of the Central American locust (Schistocerca piceifrons) in Guatemala and Mexico.  To date, the Guatemala Ministry of Agriculture has implemented effective control measures and there is no significant damage to crops. Based on early monitoring and surveillance activities so far, damage to crops and rangeland in Central America is currently expected to remain low.

    • Given that poor urban and rural households will continue to have difficulty earning enough income to meet their food and non-food needs, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist in the post-harvest periods in Central America and Haiti. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected in the Honduran and Guatemalan Dry Corridor, the coffee-growing livelihood zone in El Salvador, and areas in Haiti that are worst-affected by below-average crop production and high food prices. Additionally, some poor urban households who work in the informal sector will likely stay in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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