Food Scarce for Thousands of Nicaraguan Families

Action Against Hunger calls for immediate relief after irregular rains destroy crops in area bordering Honduras
Corn stalks in Nicaragua, courtesy ACF-Nicaragua

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA—Food stocks have run out for thousands of families across the Corredor Seco region of northern Nicaragua, Action Against Hunger | ACF International announced today. Because of erratic rainfall associated with the effects of El Niño, more than half of this year’s harvest was destroyed, leaving the population highly food insecure.

The global humanitarian group observed food stocks depleted, or nearly depleted, in the provinces of Madriz, Nueva Segovia and Estelí, where corn, bean, and sorghum crops were ruined by abnormal weather patterns. As a result, the “hunger gap”—the period of routine scarcity between harvests—will last more than two months longer than usual for this region; in other years the autumn crop harvests provide farmers and their families with enough food until April and often generate a surplus to pay off debts and cover other expenses, including education and health care. An estimated 64% of families have already begun buying produce in local markets to cope with the food deficit, two months earlier than is typical. Action Against Hunger’s teams in Nicaragua have also observed people cutting the number and size of meals.

“Even the food that people bought on the market or exchanged for seed reserves is already running out,” said José Luis Vivero, the director of Central American programs for Action Against Hunger. “Families with no money are sending members to neighboring countries in search of temporary work and are scavenging for wild weeds considered ‘famine foods’ because they’re only consumed in the most desperate of times.”

Action Against Hunger is calling for the following key actions in response to growing food scarcity in the Corredor Seco region of Nicaragua:

  • Cash-for-work programs to build roads and dams, protect critical watersheds, and construct wells;
  • Seed and fertilizer distributions and funding to create municipal seed banks;
  • Nutrition monitoring of all children under five in affected areas;
  • Expansion of the Nicaraguan government’s “Zero Hunger” program to provide social safety nets for affected families during the unusually long hunger gap;
  • Cash transfer programs and support for small businesses and diversified livelihoods; and
  • Coordination of all projects by Municipal Authorities or Councils to facilitate maximum program coverage, as established under Law 693 concerning food security and nutrition.

Action Against Hunger has worked in Nicaragua since 1996, implementing programs in nutrition, food security, livelihoods, water, and sanitation.