After months of drought, food and water supplies are dwindling. Crops are dying. Families are selling livestock and eating seeds as meager savings run low.
Even with those drastic measures, millions in Latin America are at risk for malnutrition. And there's no end in sight.
“Poor people age quickly because of worry,” Pablo Hernandez from San Pablo in El Salvador said in a statement provided to Oxfam America, an arm of the international aid organization working in the region. “Hunger is a stress that you’re carrying all the time. You want to give everything to your children.”
The shortages are an effect of El Niño, the weather pattern that is wreaking havoc across the globe. The high temperatures and drought conditions exacerbated by El Niño in parts of the world are creating a dire forecast for families. Oxfam estimates that 3.5 million people in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador do not have enough to eat. In El Salvador, for example, an Oxfam study found that 60% of families living in impacted areas "face serious food insecurity."
"Many are now out of options and need urgent support with basic necessities like food and clean water," Mercedes Garcia, Oxfam’s humanitarian officer in El Salvador, said in a statement. "They also need long-term support so they can adapt to future unpredictable weather patterns and start producing again. We must invest more in these forward-looking approaches."
Oxfam is working to support those families by providing economic opportunities and support to continue farming throughout the drought, but funding is also running dry. Ahead, a powerful look at how families in Guatemala are coping with the conditions.
Learn more about Oxfam America's relief efforts related to El Niño, here.