THE continuing drought in Central America devastated corn and
beans crops - the most important basic grains of the region - this
year. A state of emergency was declared in El Salvador and
Honduras, and in Nicaragua 100,000 families were affected. Food
security and malnutrition are becoming a big problem after more
frequent droughts in the region and unseasonal heavy precipitation
caused floods and landslides.
In September, the World Bank reported that more than 500,000
families in the region had nothing to eat. The Famine Early Warning
System reported in November that large parts of the region were
still in difficulties.
Christian Aid is working on these climate-change emergencies
directly and through the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more
than 140 Churches and related organisations, providing humanitarian
relief and early recovery programmes, and encouraging people across
the region to adapt to climate change.
The Lutheran World Federation's regional representative in
Central America, Elena Cedillo, says that people have eaten all of
last year's basic grain-harvests, and the first harvest failed this
year. The safety net is always a cash crop, and the people in this
region depend on coffee for that, but coffee has also failed
because of changes in the climate, and the spread of leaf rust.
"As well as humanitarian aid and early recovery," Ms Cedillo
says, "we're looking ahead, and working on adapting to climate
change - teaching people to diversify their crops, to plant crops
like sorghum that is more resistant to drought, for example. And,
in cash crops, to change coffee for cocoa because cocoa is more
resistant to the new levels of humidity that are helping the spread
of leaf rust. And we're working on micro-irrigation and improving
water sources, like deepening wells."
Many people are being forced to leave because of the climate. Ms
Cedillo says: "We're currently seeing a massive wave of migration
out of the region to North America. Millions of people are taking
the very high-risk and illegal journey to the US. . . . We struggle
for this crisis to get the attention and support it deserves."
Families and churches are encouraged to divest from fossil
fuels, taking their lead from the World Council of Churches, which
recently announced the withdrawal of all its investments from funds
related to fossil fuels.
For further information on the movement Fast for the Climate,
Sean Hawkey's work on the Central American drought was
sponsored by ACT Alliance.