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Recurrent Drought In Central America’s Dry Corridor

Recurrent drought and increasingly unpredictable annual rains have exacerbated the already difficult conditions facing farming families in Central America’s Dry Corridor, including Honduras. They have resulted in massive crop losses in these rainfed systems, causing widespread food insecurity and increased malnutrition rates in already vulnerable populations. Thus, climate, and more specifically rainfall and temperature, have a tremendous impact on the livelihoods and food security of smallholder farming families across Mesoamerica. 

Crop losses of this magnitude in consecutive harvests seriously undermine the food security of subsistence farmers who depend on their own production for a substantial portion of their food needs. Without sufficient food reserves to cover these losses, families will try to survive by buying food with the money they earn as agricultural day laborers. If they cannot find sufficient work to pay for their priority needs, they will be forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms or to migrate.

The food insecurity and other ill effects of the current drought are being compounded by consecutive years of similar conditions, as well as by a general deterioration of the natural resource base in Honduras. Twenty-three percent of the country’s arable land has been lost to degradation since 1970. The degradation is invariably worse in the Dry Corridor, and especially on the mountainous and hilly areas that tend to be farmed by smallholders using poor soil and water management practices, such as excessive tillage and burning for weed control.

These farmers produce subsistence crops, such as maize and beans, for self-consumption and sell small surplus amounts to supply some of their basic needs. Without optimal soil and water management techniques and diversified cropping systems, it is difficult for a typical family to subsist on their own production from such small hillside parcels even when rain is favorable. 

When they face recurrent disasters, many farming families adopt negative coping mechanisms, such as eating saved seeds and selling off livestock and other farm assets. It is not uncommon for families to abandon their farms to seek a better life in the city or abroad.

As a result of our work, family farmers become change agents in their own communities, growing more and better food in ways that regenerate the environment and increase jobs, incomes, health, and education levels. How we farm, our health and the welfare of the planet are deeply connected. This is why we empower and connect farmers to develop and share sensible approaches for growing food in ways that allow their communities and the environment to thrive.

When you give to Groundswell, you are investing in the power of rural communities to dramatically reduce hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, and vulnerability to climate change. Thank you for your continued support!

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