Floods Destroy Food Crops, Threaten Livelihoods in Guatemala
Following torrential rains and flooding triggered by a tropical depression in Guatemala, more than 16,700 families have been affected in the worst hit coastal areas of Escuintla, Santa Rosa, Jutiapa and San Marco, according to an assessment carried out by humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International. In response, Action Against Hunger has distributed drinking water, hygiene kits, and therapeutic ready-to-use foods to meet the immediate needs of the communities most-affected. The organization has also launched programs aimed at rebuilding livelihoods and damaged infrastructure for the long term.
Half of all homes in the 106 communities surveyed by Action Against Hunger have been flooded. With agricultural fields covered in standing water, it is estimated the flood ruined 70 percent of corn crops, 83 percent of beans crops and more than 40 percent of banana, vegetables and Pashte fields. Poultry stocks have also suffered severe losses ranging from 20 to 60 percent.
“The floods threaten the already fragile livelihoods of vulnerable communities in the affected areas. Seasonal hunger recurs year after year… sometimes caused by drought, sometimes caused by too much rain. When a storm pummels communities already at risk of seasonal hunger, this is what happens.”
—Olivier Longue, Executive Director, ACF-Spain
As heavy rains battered Guatemala for eight consecutive days, the affected communities reported that the impact of this year’s floods exceeded previous flood-related disasters, causing widespread damage to the nation’s infrastructure as well.
Water and sanitation systems have been heavily damaged: 25 drinking water sources, 55 schools, health and community centers, and more than 12,300 wells and 9,300 latrines were partially or totally destroyed, leading to an increased risk of disease outbreaks. ACF has also recorded a significant increase in acute respiratory infections and diarrheal disease.
Beyond the initial emergency response, Action Against Hunger has plans to rehabilitate damaged wells and implement programs to rebuild roads, bridges and other forms of transportation. Action Against Hunger will also launch programs aimed at helping small-scale farmers replant their fields, support households by restocking animals, including chickens, pigs, and ducks, and strengthen community-level disaster preparedness and response capacities.