How Food Insecurity Affects Communities
Hunger and malnutrition are prevalent across Latin America. 42.5 million people are unable to obtain an adequate number of calories each day and many of those who are able to meet their caloric goals are unable to meet their nutritional needs, making malnutrition almost inescapable. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of people suffering from undernourishment grew by 600,000, likely due to prolonged drought and flooding, which has made it difficult for farmers and their families to grow food.
Despite the prominence of food insecurity in Central America, women, children, rural families, and indigenous communities disproportionately experience the stress of inadequate nutrition due to poverty. These vulnerable communities largely depend on farming to provide for their families; 43% of indigenous Central Americans are twice as likely to live in poverty, and women in Central America are largely relegated to informal employment, where they lack a secure income. Indigenous populations and rural farming families are instrumental in developing sustainable agriculture practices that enrich Latin America’s trade economy while sustaining their own families. When large-scale agricultural companies cut family farmers out of the markets, or when unpredictable weather patterns destroy harvests, these small farmers have little to fall back on.
Malnutrition creates myriad problems in Central America ranging from stunting to migration. 22% of Honduran children under the age of 5 currently suffer from stunting, a condition resulting from poor nutrition from an early age that inhibits physical growth and reduces cognition. Children from rural and Indigenous communities experience stunting 50% more than children from urban areas. In some communities with access to processed foods, the inability to secure fresh, nutritious food often results in overconsumption of low-quality, sugary foods that lead to juvenile obesity. Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to experience diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. The inability to feed or care for their children is a major stress on parents – one that causes many to migrate. Small farmers along the Dry Corridor, a section of land running from Mexico to Panama suffering from extreme drought, have few choices when crops fail and their families go hungry.
How Our Partners Address Food Insecurity
Our partners in El Salvador and Honduras are improving food security in their communities through innovative sustainable farming programs and grassroots organizing. The Mangrove Association works to teach small farmers how to adapt their farming practices to be more resilient against erratic weather, ensuring that they create sustainable yields for their families. Small farmer cooperatives and micro-finance associations are working together to create a rural economy that equitably supports communities through the network Red COMAL. Red COMAL’s farmers practice agroecology, respecting natural processes and optimizing resources to protect the longevity and viability of the farmland they depend on.
You can help support our partners improve food security in their communities by donating to EcoViva today.