The return of hunger to Central America? It never went away.

Key words: hunger; food insecurity; family farming; export agriculture.

In July 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that acute food insecurity is likely to increase in 23 countries in the next four months. The two organisations explained that violence, conflict, climate change and economic crisis will remain as the main drivers of acute food insecurity.

In Latin America, the two organisations named Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador as the countries most like to experience worsening levels of hunger. The Mesoamerican coordinator for the FAO, Adoniram Sanches (as it happens a Brazilian), was particularly concerned about the levels of hunger likely to be felt in the Dry Corridor of the Pacific coastal plain of Central America which over the last ten years has suffered numerous hurricanes, six prolonged droughts, various catastrophic floodings and a pandemic.

According to Sanches, the three Central American countries registering the highest levels of hunger are El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, but conditions in the Dry Corridor also extend to cover Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Some ten million people live in this region and most of them are to some extent dependent on agriculture.

Sanches said that “the problem with hunger is not one of production but is rather one of economic access and the lack of resources to get food.” The FAO and WFP regretted that efforts to combat a global surge in acute food insecurity are often hampered by political tensions and blockages, preventing families on the brink of famine from receiving assistance.” Bureaucratic hurdles and lack of funding also slow the efforts of UN agencies to provide emergency food assistance.

The coordinator suggested that in Guatemala there is a large group of farmers producing coffee, water melon and melon (all for export) but who do not have enough food for themselves. The FAO therefore needs to support family farming. He also suggested that within the worst affected groups, there are smaller groups who are doubly affected, such as women, Indigenous peoples and those of Afro-descent.

In 2019 and 2020, the number of food insecure people worldwide increased from 135 million to155 million. This situation is expected to worsen this year (2021).



El Economista,14 July 2021, ‘Centroamérica vuelve a pasar hambre’.

Telesur Newsletter, 30 July 2021, ‘Acute Food Insecurity To Increase in Colombia, Haiti and Guatemala’.

United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), 30 July 2021, ‘Hunger Hotspots: FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity (August to November 2021 outlook)’.