Drought in Central America spectre of hunger looms


B. McPherson

Drought and disease have conspired to throw farmers in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras into poverty. The coffee bean rust has ruined coffee trees and continuing drought has meant lost crops for about 40 000 families in Guatemala. Fishing has also been poor, blamed on El Nino.

The government of Guatemala has declared the situation an emergency. The UN World Food Programme is assisting the Central American countries. 170 000 households in Guatemala are receiving food aid. Honduras is receiving aid for 76 000 families. Due to the dire conditions red beans have soared in price since January.

Guatemala faced a severe drought only five years ago. It was another El Nino year and at that time an estimated 2.5 million people were severely malnourished.

Guatemala was one of those “Banana Republics”. Their democratic government was overthrown in the ‘50s when it is alleged that the CIA worked to protect the properties of the United Fruit Growers(Chiquita Brands) which stood to lose much land due to reforms. It has suffered under a series of brutal dictators. They lost many people during the conflicts.

Drought stalks many other countries around the world. It has recently been announced that Somalia has yet another disastrous drought that threatens thousands with starvation. Looking at the US Drought Monitor map, it is easy to see that even the Golden State of California is coping with an exceptional drought over much of its state. While most in that state do not face the scale of starvation faced in many other parts of the world, lack of water has mandated drastically reduced agricultural production.

People in the past were able to migrate from areas where they could not survive, but modern borders and restrictions prevent the easy passage for people. It raises ethical questions about how the “have” nations should behave toward those that do not have.

There currently is an interactive map available to show drought conditions throughout the world. Just as one swallow does not a summer make, one drought does not mean climate change. How shall we view recurring droughts that become more intense each year?

No water, no life
  
Sources:
Latino Fox News        
Reuters     
Wikipedia     
Noaa    

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