New study examines links between emigration and food insecurity in the Dry Corridor of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras

Published on 23 August 2017

Copyright: WFP/Photolibrary

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new inter-agency study released today found a correlation between the prolonged droughts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – exacerbated by El Niño phenomenon from 2014 to 2016 — and the increase in irregular migration from these countries to the United States of America.

“Food Security and Emigration: Why people flee and the impact on family members left behind in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras” shows the need to invest in long-term programmes to discourage people in the Dry Corridor from emigrating, and to reduce the risks for emigrants and the impact on the families left behind.

The study shows a trend of younger and more vulnerable people leaving food-insecure areas, especially in the Dry Corridor, a drought-prone area that crosses these countries.

“The study provides an important insight into why people flee and the impact on the family members staying behind,” said WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Miguel Barreto. “It is perhaps this second aspect which makes this study stand out from much of the analysis conducted on migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to date.”

“Human rights are the cornerstone for social inclusion, democracy, and peace. However, when millions of our fellow citizens of the Americas still suffer from hunger, it is an indication that much remains to be done. We welcome this study, that can help us to find solutions for those who are forced by hunger to leave their homes”, said OAS Assistant Secretary General Nestor Mendez.

Family members left behind face the burden of paying the debts of those who have migrated. If the emigration is unsuccessful, the family faces the problem of growing debt and of how to meet their food needs, the report said.

The document also pointed out that 47 percent of the families interviewed were food- insecure; such levels of food insecurity have not been previously recorded in the region even in the assessments carried out in the past three years in the Dry Corridor.

Some 72 percent of the families interviewed said they were applying “emergency” coping strategies such as selling their land, farm animals and tools to buy food.

Meanwhile 78 percent of the family members left behind are receiving a monthly remittance and indeed 42 percent of the surveyed families reported that remittances were their only source of income, according to the study. More than half of the money received from emigrants is used by family members to buy food, followed by agricultural investments – like buying land and animals -- and investing in small businesses.

This study was funded and jointly produced by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), with the collaboration of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS).

The research is a follow-up to the results and recommendations of the exploratory study on the links between migration, violence and food security, “Hunger without Borders”, released in 2015.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

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Alejandro Chicheri, WFP/Latin America, Tel. +507 317 3936, Mob.  +507 6671 5355
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