The Guatemalan government declared Monday a state of public emergency in the country’s 22 provinces as a result of the prolonged drought that has affected more than 200,000 families and caused agriculture losses in the millions.
President Otto Perez Molina made the announcement on Twitter.
We have signed at this Monday’s Cabinet meeting the government decree that declares a state of emergency because of the drought’s consequences to agriculture,” he wrote.
Agriculture Minister Elmer Lopez said the drought caused losses of 450 million quetzales ($57.84 million), mostly to corn and bean crops, the staples of the Guatemalan diet.
Some 184 million quetzales ($23.65 million) have already been assigned to start providing aid for those harmed by the disaster, he said.
He said the prolonged drought has affected 236,000 families in 16 provinces.
In the region of the Dry Corridor alone, which includes seven of the 16 affected provinces, some 500,000 children under the age of 5 run the risk of suffering malnutrition, the head of the Department of Food and Nutritional Security, Luis Enrique Monterroso, said, adding that the authorities are working to deliver aid to the area.
The regional director of the U.N. World Food Program, Peru’s Miguel Barreto, said last Friday that the drought is a “recurring issue” in Central America that “requires long-term solutions.”
“The subject of food security is the responsibility of everyone and not just the governments,” he said in Guatemala, calling for investment in irrigation systems and water infrastructure.