Millions of people across Central America are struggling to make a living, with hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic leaving them both jobless and penniless.
Around 1.7 million people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua urgently need food assistance, according to the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP).
“2020 was a year to forget across the world, and even more so for communities in Central America that were dealt a series of blows,” said Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The pandemic was the first to rattle the region during the year. Then came hurricanes one after another. Hurricanes Eta and Iota that struck in November last year upended the lives of 6.8 million people, according to the report.
The worsening economic situation is forcing people to flee their homeland for good. Nearly 15 percent of people surveyed by WFP in January 2021 said that they were making concrete plans to migrate.
The hurricanes destroyed over 200,000 hectares of staple food and cash crops in the four countries and more than 10,000 hectares of coffee farmland in Honduras and Nicaragua.
“Urban and rural communities in Central America have hit rock bottom. The COVID-19-induced economic crisis had already put food on the market shelves out of reach for the most vulnerable people when the twin hurricanes Eta and Iota battered them further,” said Barreto. “Many now have nowhere to live and are staying in temporary shelters, surviving on next to nothing”.
In the region, agriculture is heavily dependent on regular rainfall. Over the past two years, countries in the region are facing either drought or hurricanes.
WFP plans to assist 2.6 million people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in 2021 and requires US$47.3 million over the next six months.