FEWS, April 2020,
Food access declines across region due to prior shocks and impact of COVID-19
- As of April 21st, the WHO has confirmed a total of 1,040 cases of COVID-19 in presence and remote monitoring countries covered by FEWS NET. Although Nicaragua has not implemented measures to date, the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti have implemented measures to mitigate the spread of the disease, including curfew, border closures, and limits to public transportation and working hours. Movement of food and other essential goods are still permitted, and most markets are functioning normally.
- As a result of movement restrictions within the region, household income from formal and informal income-generating activities is declining even further than what was anticipated prior to the pandemic. Additionally, remittances from the US declined in March. Although remittances primarily benefit middle and better-off households, many poor and very poor households are experiencing a direct or indirect impact on their main source of income as declining remittances from abroad affect overall economic activity. Governments across the region are initiating a series of measures to mitigate the impact on economic activity and food assistance.
- In Haiti, the most significant impact of movement restrictions is a decline in income from cross-border labor and, to a lesser extent, urban labor. However, the long-term trend of high staple food prices remains the main limiting factor for food access among poor households. They will continue to engage in crisis and stressed strategies to meet their basic food consumption needs. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are most likely, with an increase in the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected until the Spring harvest in June.
- In the Dry Corridor of Central America, poor households have spent income from the coffee harvest more rapidly than usual due to low stocks from previous harvests that drove earlier dependence on food purchases from the market. Currently, labor income is seasonally low as households engage in Primera planting on their own farms, while maize prices are above average. As the lean season progresses, an increasing number of vulnerable households are likely to engage in crisis coping strategies in order to purchase their basic food needs and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), particularly in Guatemala and Honduras.