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Central America and Caribbean Key Message Update: Food insecurity increases in Haiti and persists in other parts of the region, September 2021

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Key Messages

  • In Haiti, the August 14 earthquake and August 16 landfall of tropical depression Grace have increased the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3 outcomes) by 50 percent through December 2021 compared to before the earthquake. Impacts were most significant in the department of Sud. In addition to the loss of life, these back-to-back shocks displaced thousands of people, destroyed infrastructure and assets, and disrupted markets, trade routes, and livelihood activities.

  • Some early-planted fall crops in mountainous areas were destroyed by landslides; some damage was reported to maize and pea crops, worst affecting poorer households whose crops are primary source of food and income. Many farmers lost agricultural tools and seeds in the earthquake, which will limit their capacities for the fall agricultural season. Given that these shocks come on top of already high food prices and sociopolitical instability, food access for the poor and the poorest households is expected to be lower than usual as income sources reduce and expenses increase for rebuilding their livelihoods.

  • In Central America, relief from the approaching harvests and seasonal labor opportunities will not be sufficient to avoid Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes for the poorest households of the Honduran and Guatemalan Dry Corridor, areas impacted by Eta and Iota and the coffee-producing areas of central and eastern Honduras and western El Salvador through January 2022. In these areas, incomes remain low and household debt has grown, smallholder farmers face below-average maize and bean production, and households that rely on agricultural labor opportunities face constraints due to high transportation costs and reduced demand for labor related to coffee production.

  • Postrera harvests are expected to be near average. However, localized excess moisture during the August to November rainy season may cause some maize and bean crop losses. A seasonal decrease in maize and bean prices is expected in El Salvador and Honduras and markets are well supplied and operating normally across the region. In both Guatemala and Nicaragua, however, maize prices have remained significantly above the five-year average, due to supply chain disruption, atypical increases, and price speculation. Higher food prices, as well as increasing transportation and gas prices throughout the region, are constraining household purchasing power.

  • Vaccination progress has been uneven and multiple waves of COVID-19 are expected throughout this outlook period. There are no restrictions in place despite of the high number of infections and national governments are not likely to reinstate stringent COVID-19-related restrictions. This is expected to allow for gradual economic recovery and an improvement in household incomes, particularly for households reliant on tourism, commerce, services, or informal employment.