‘Today we’re eating meat!’

As a prolonged heat wave destroyed their corn crops, families in the Honduran section of the Dry Corridor struggle to meet their food needs.

María Electicia at the entrance of her house in the Dry Corridor. Photo: WFP/Hetze Tosta

More than 65,000 families lost their crops as a result of the drought in the Dry Corridor of Honduras, leading the Government to issue an emergency decree for the 74 affected communities.

María Electicia, her husband Noé (whom she met when she was 15 years old) and their children are one of the affected families. The village where they live, Panasacarán, lies in one of the poorest municipalities in the department of Valle, southern Honduras, which is part of Central America’s Dry Corridor.

Migrating to find work

Although they lived in poverty, they always had food on the table, says María Electicia, but it began to become very scarce after the drought.

Noé invested all their savings in planting maize. They had planned to use part of the harvest for their own consumption and sell the rest. “It never rained, the maize never grew, and we lost everything,” says María Electicia.

“We had to leave our little house to find some work, since everything that Noé had planted had been lost.”

María Electicia and her son Eduardo talk to the German ambassador, Thomas Wriessnig, and the COPECO Deputy Commissioner, Carlos Cordero, during a joint visit to the village with WFP. Photo: WFP/Hetze Tosta

It was a hard blow. María Electicia and Noé left their house and children, and headed to the mountains in Catacamas, in the department of Olancho, where they harvested coffee for a month.

There, they were paid 25 lempiras (US$1.00) per gallon of coffee. In one day of work, the couple picked between five and six gallons (US$6.00), but food and bus fares to the fields ate up most of their earnings. This is often the case: according to WFP research, a poor family uses on average up to 63 percent of its income for the purchase of food.

After the coffee harvest, they returned to their village, but “the situation in Panasacarán is very difficult, because there is no work here”, explains María Electicia.

María Electicia and her son Eduardo sun-dry meat in front of their house. Photo: WFP/Hetze Tosta

Cash transfers

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Honduras, with support from the Government of Germany, are providing food assistance to 11,350 affected families in Panasacarán through cash transfers.

Made possible thanks to a contribution of EUR 1.1 million from the German Government, the cash transfers allow families to buy the food they need, pay for school supplies and cover other important needs.

María Electicia is just back from grocery shopping. “It has been a blessing for my family and today we will eat meat!,” she exclaims with a big smile. The family has not had meat for three whole months.

Since there is no electricity in her community — not to mention a refrigerator — María Electicia places the meat she has bought outdoors to dry, which will preserve it for later consumption.

María Electicia, Noé and one of her children in front of her house. Photo: WFP/Hetze Tosta

“Thanks to this money, we have not only bought the food that my family needs, but we also some new notebooks so that the children can go to school,” says Noé. He is anxious for the rain to return, so he will able to sow new crops again.

Story written by Hetze Tosta

Translation by Virginie Laplante

The World Food Programme, together with national authorities, continues to monitor the situation in the Dry Corridor of Central America, especially after the appearance of the El Niño phenomenon since mid-February 2019.

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