Drought in Central America
Around 2.8 million people in three Central American countries need food aid after two consecutive years of severe drought decimated crops and exacerbated hunger among the poor, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
Prolonged dry spells since mid-2014, linked to the El Niño weather phenomenon, have battered subsistence farmers in Central America’s “dry corridor” running through Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Poor rainfall has left parched, cracked soil, fields of withered maize and bean crops, and empty water wells in these areas.
Some 3.5 million people are struggling to feed themselves in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and of that number 2.8 million rely on food aid to survive, the FAO said.
Drought in Central India
Some 400 farmers have killed themselves so far this year in the parched Marathwada region, which is home to about 19 million people. It’s located in the otherwise prosperous Maharashtra state, a central Indian region devastated by two successive failed monsoons and a crippling drought.
The dry wells, shrivelled stubble of sugarcane fields and withered fruit trees across the region reflect the suffering of hundreds of millions of Indians across at least a dozen other states that are under the grips of a severe drought.
Monsoon showers, which normally run from June to September, are crucial in a country where 60 percent of the population works in agriculture and less than half the farmland is irrigated.
For the average farmer, who lives and earns from season to season, a poor monsoon means food must be carefully rationed because he has little money to spend.
The situation was so dire in that in April the Maharashtra state government began sending millions of litres (hundreds of thousands of gallons) of water to Marathwada’s worst-hit Latur district on a “water train.”
Small farmers have been pushed into poverty. Poor farm labourers, hired by middlemen to work on large farms, have been forced to work for little or no money. Cattle farmers forced to bring their herds close to water supplies live in lean-tos and cook over open fires.
In every village in the region there are several locked and abandoned homes. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to abandon their villages and head to slums in bigger cities to earn a living.