Drought, flooding, and food (in)security in Nicaragua

Corn in northern Nicaragua planted using drought-resistant techniques.
Corn in northern Nicaragua planted
using drought-resistant techniques.

Climate uncertainty is creating food insecurity across Nicaragua. Following two years of drought in the western dry corridor, smallholder farmers are increasingly vulnerable. Traditionally, there are two planting seasons for farmers. In the past two years the drought has meant minimal harvesting from the first planting, leaving many farmers with limited food and seeds for the second planting.

In 2015, there was just enough rain in the second planting season for a harvest. Up to 60 percent of surface water sources and 50 percent of underground water sources have either dried up or are too polluted to use.

In the east, however, recent flooding has turned into a serious risk, contributing to contaminated water sources, damaged crops and flooded latrines, also impacting food security. In some cases, communities must be evacuated as rivers rise.

Farmers in Nicaragua struggle with a tragic combination of the effects of El Niño, global climate change, deforestation, and a failure to protect environmental resources. As farmers look ahead, they must decide whether to risk planting or, given climate uncertainty, move elsewhere.

In response, MCC works with local partners on conservation agriculture efforts to improve yields in dry years and on emergency responses to drought. MCC is also in conversation with church partners about how to help mitigate flood damage.

Derrick Charles is the MCC representative in Nicaragua.