Notes on food security issues in El Salvador in 2023

Summarised by Martin Mowforth

January 2024

Key words: El Salvador; food insecurity; Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO); World Food Programme (WFP); world grain prices; El Niño.


In July last year (2023), two United Nations agencies warned that El Salvador was at a critical point of increasing hunger and that the situation was likely to worsen if the problems were not immediately addressed. The two organisations are the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) which issued a joint report on world food security.

According to ACAPS (an independent information provider on humanitarian needs analysis and assessment), in 2023 the climate event of El Niño resulted in prolonged periods of drought and decreased rainfall in El Salvador. The climatic event intensified during December 2023 and January 2024 and it is believed that El Salvador will remain under its influence until 2027. According to 2050 projections, the country’s risk and vulnerability are likely to continue increasing.

Referring to the FAO/WFP report, Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the WFP, said, “we must act now to save lives, to help people adapt to a changing climate and, ultimately, to prevent famine. If we fail to do so, the results will be catastrophic.”

Other global factors affecting the likely increase in food insecurity included the delayed effects of the global Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine which has led to uncertainty in world grain supplies.

As at August 2023, food prices had risen above the five-year average increase. 58 per cent of El Salvador’s rural population also lacked access to drinking water, and these factors were expected to lead to increased migration rates to urban areas.

To address the problem, the Food Sovereignty Roundtable proposed the creation of a National Foodstuffs Reserve in El Salvador with the aim of getting the state of El Salvador to intervene in the economy of basic grain provision. Following the FAO/WFP report, specific measures suggested included the following.

  • Irrigation systems – provision to vulnerable agricultural households of systems of water collection and micro-irrigation for the production of vegetables.
  • Monetary assistance – to complement government support following high impact climate events, the provision of cash donations as well as the provision of help towards activities that are appropriate for the affected populations.
  • Dry Corridor – to improve the follow-up on food and nutrition security with preparation for intervention in zones with greatest food insecurity, especially for those affected by the drought in the Dry Corridor.
  • Monitoring of prices – periodic monitoring of food, fuel and fertiliser prices. To improve the monitoring of market prices to allow for adjustments in the cash transfer programmes.


  • WFP & FAO. 2023. Hunger Hotspots. FAO–WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity: November 2023 to April 2024 outlook. Rome.
  • Karla Alfaro y Rosa María Pastrán, 21 July 2023, ‘ONU advierte sobre incremento de hambre en El Salvador: Es “muy probable que la inseguridad alimentaria aguda se deteriore aún más”’, El Economista.
  • Rosa María Pastrán, 27 July 2023, ‘Organizaciones presentan al Ministerio de Agricultura de El Salvador propuestas para crear una reserva nacional de alimentos ante alza de precios’, El Economista.