Central America is experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades, much of it caused by the weather phenomenon of El Niño. In a region where nearly half of Central Americans live in poverty and countries with a rising ecological debt; this phenomenon exacerbates the socio-economic, and environmental vulnerabilities that the region already faces: malnutrition, loss of crops and livestock. This increments poverty conditions in which millions of Central Americans live, and many other challenges this region already faces.
Just in Nicaragua, during this rainy season according to FAO, the country has experienced a 50% reduction in average rainfall. Farmers have lost over 2500 cattle due to starvation. In Guatemala, about 170,000 families lost almost all of their crops, while in El Salvador crops have completely been lost in two-thirds of the country. The agricultural losses are largely in corn and beans, basic staples of the region's diet. In Costa Rica, the drought has left Guanacaste habitants without water, affecting main economical activities like agriculture and tourism.
But we were warned: According to 2010´s Economics of Climate Change in Central America “the region is seriously affected by droughts, cyclones and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Over the past three decades there has been a trend of reduced rainfall especially in the western part of the Isthmus, and of temperature increases ranging from 0.7 °C to 1 °C. Given that diverse economic activities are climate dependent, such as agriculture, climatic changes could increasingly affect the region’s economic evolution over the course of the current century.” However, the facts, and scientific studies, are not translated into public policies to reduce the region’s vulnerability.
At the U.N. climate conferences, Central America always stresses it being located in one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, and that government have to start working in adaptation. But what they say in the international climate arena rarely translates into bold action at home.
If Central America really aims to reduce poverty, grow its economy, and protect the environment, it has to recognize its climate vulnerabilities and reduce them. Because we want to have a positive impact on people’s life, it is time for Central America to start focusing in climate resilience, and mainstream it in our social, economical, and environmental policies. It is time to walk the talk!