Photo: WFP/Julian Frank

Building Resilient Communities Top Priority as WFP Chief Visits Central America

April 19, 2021

ROME – The visit to Central America by the United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director, David Beasley renews the U.N. World Food Programme’s commitment to working with vulnerable communities, offering them sustainable livelihoods and food security in their villages, giving them reasons to stay at home and reducing migration. During his visit Beasley met families affected by climate change coupled with job losses and rising inequality, a fallout of COVID-19.

“When you don’t have food to feed your children, when you don’t have money to buy medicines you are pushed into desperation,” said Beasley. “People don’t want to leave their homes, they are being forced to.”

Hunger in Central America has quadrupled over the past two years, with 8 million people now hungry. Of this figure, 1.7 million people are in the ‘Emergency’ category of food insecurity meaning they require urgent food assistance.

The rise in hunger has coincided with a doubling in the number of people planning to migrate. A U.N. World Food Programme assessment conducted in January 2021 saw at least 15 percent of people surveyed wanting to migrate as compared to only eight percent in 2018.

“You are hearing about all the migration. People have lost their jobs. They have lost their hope. We urgently need to help people with food as well as long-term development that requires more than a piecemeal approach,” said Beasley.

It costs the United States close to $4,000 per person, per week to support migrant teenagers and children at the border[1] while it costs the U.N. World Food Programme between $1 and $2 per person, per week to support people in Central America through our resilience projects.

“Sustainable livelihoods, strengthened resilience and self-reliant communities are the U.N. World Food Programme’s priorities in Central America. We want people to have hope in their future, faith in their lands and opportunities at home,” said Beasley.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s resilience building work was the focus of Beasley’s visit to Honduras and Guatemala. The U.N. World Food Programme provides technical and financial support to communities so they adapt their production to a changing climate and can generate more income. Farmers improve their methods, diversify their crops and also their livelihoods.

Multi-year programs with small-scale farmers in Central America have helped communities harvest water, build irrigation systems, greenhouses and nurseries. Farmers aim to harvest a variety of crops year-round. Alternatives also include poultry farms, fisheries, honey, hammock production etc.

With food and cash, the U.N. World Food Programme is also reaching families affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota that upended lives throughout Central America in November 2020, as well as thousands of vulnerable families dealing with job losses in urban and rural areas, a fallout of COVID-19.

Beasley’s mission also included a trip to Haiti where he saw the U.N. World Food Programme’s work with rural communities, rehabilitating salt basins and increasing productivity. He also saw the U.N. World Food Programme’s ongoing preparedness activities ahead of the upcoming hurricane season in June.

Link to broadcast quality footage here.
Link to hi-res photos here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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[1] Biden administration spending $60 million per week to shelter unaccompanied minors – The Washington Post