UN World Food Programme

Colombia: The Effects of Drought in La Guajira

Leticia, a community leader in the Community of Juttial in the town of Maicao, shows the consequences of drought on cattle. (Copyright: WFP/Juan Felipe Espinosa)

The prolonged drought in the Department of La Guajira in recent years has exacerbated the levels of undernutrition within the population, including children under 5 years of age. La Guajira is currently on alert due to the prevalent effects of food scarcity, lack of water and livelihoods insecurity. The World Food Programme (WFP) offers its support to the Government of Colombia.

BOGOTA. –La Guajira, one of the 32 departments of Colombia, is located in the Northwest region of the country and about half of its population is made up of indigenous groups with high levels of poverty. In 2013, slightly more than 50 percent of the population of La Guajira were considered impoverished. 

The decrease in rainfall in recent years in La Guajira has had serious negative effects on the levels of food and nutritional security and on the overall health of the population. The lack of food and water has affected more than 63,000 people, most of them concentrated in the municipalities of Riohacha, Uribía and Manaure. There have also been serious consequences for the agricultural and livestock sectors. The Colombian Agricultural Institute reported that the lack of water has killed more than 20,000 cattle.

“This Situation is Worrisome”

This situation of food and nutritional insecurity is worrisome because it is affecting the masses, especially those highly vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children under 2 years of age. “We're talking here about the nutrition at a critical age for the physical and cognitive development of children. Inadequate nutrition can have irreversible effects on brain development, physical growth and chronic diseases; all of this resulting in lifelong consequences.” said Ana Mercedes Cepeda, WFP nutritionist in Colombia.

To respond to this situation of food insecurity, WFP offers support to the Government of Colombia to rebuild and strengthen the livelihoods of those most affected and to recover the nutritional status of the population.

WFP Activities in La Guajira

Since early 2014, WFP has been working to improve the food security in the Department of La Guajira of isolated rural areas, population of urban areas, population affected by the conflict and people who have been affected by both conflict and natural disasters. 

WFP, in collaboration with the Government and other partners, conducts relief and recovery projects such as Food for goods or training; School Feeding and distributions of supplementary food for children. With these dietary interventions WFP plans to assist more than 11,000 people in La Guajira this year.