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Central America and Caribbean Food Security Outlook, July to January 2022

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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will likely persist in several areas of concern through 2021 harvest

Key Messages

  • In Central America, the population experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes is expected to reach its annual peak between June and September. Household food and income sources are low during the ongoing lean season, exacerbated by high staple food prices, slow recovery from the impacts of the 2020 hurricanes, and the 2020 economic contraction due to COVID-19. Food prices are expected to trend above the five-year average, driven by consecutive years of regional crop production losses, weather shocks, high fuel prices, and high global maize prices. As a result, household purchasing power is below normal in rural and urban areas, limiting food access.

  • The food insecure population is expected to decline in Central America between October and January due to the near-average primera and postrera harvests, seasonal cash crop labor income, and rising formal and informal employment linked to the economic recovery. However, localized primera crop losses are likely among smallholder farmers that have been worst affected by rainfall deficits in central and eastern Honduras and northwestern Nicaragua and by excess rainfall in the Pacific basin of El Salvador. Further, rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccination progress will likely hinder a full economic recovery. Finally, small-scale coffee producers are still recovering from weather, coffee rust, and pandemic-related shocks. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will most likely persist in parts of northern and southern Honduras; parts of the Dry Corridor, Altiplano, Alta Verapaz, and Izabal in Guatemala; and the western coffee livelihood zone in El Salvador. Although all areas of Nicaragua will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Nueva Segovia is still of concern.

  • In Haiti, where the peak of the lean season occurred in May, local and imported staple food prices are above average and typical sources of income are inadequate for households to meet their non-food needs in many areas. Although spring crop production prospects in June are broadly favorable, poor rural households are still recovering from the loss of food and income during past below-average production seasons. Consequently, food security will likely only marginally improve from June to September and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely be sustained.

  • Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also expected in Haiti from October to January. The socio-political and security climate remains unstable. Continued unrest is likely and expected to disrupt trade — affecting market access and food prices — and negatively impact informal income-generating activities for poor urban households. Given Haiti’s dependence on staple food imports, the depreciation of the HTG against the USD continues to drive food prices well above the five-year average. As a result, household purchasing power is significantly constrained. Many poor households will likely adopt stressed and crisis food consumption and livelihoods coping strategies, such as the consumption of early harvests or seeds and the reduction in the quality and/or quantity of meals.

  • While humanitarian food assistance is being provided in parts of Central America, delivery is localized, and available distribution data do not currently suggest the scale of assistance is likely to change food security outcomes in the region.