BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Devastating drought hits Hondurans
Children working in replanting programme
Choluteca children replant crops in the fields
Mike Lanchin reports from Choluteca in southern Honduras, where thousands of people are suffering the effects of a two-month drought.

Juana Rodriguez looks down at her pregnant stomach, then glances over at three of her children, standing barefoot and hungry beside her at the door of their abode shack. She sighs to herself.

Juana Rodriguez
Juana Rodriguez is struggling to feed her children
Just weeks away from the new baby's birth, she is close to desperation: "I don't know what we're going to do. Last year we got a good harvest, but this year we got nothing, nothing at all. It's all dried up."

She says, almost apologetically, that her youngest children often miss school because she has nothing to give them for lunch since the drought ravaged the family's yearly crop of corn, beans and squash.

"When I can get something to give them, they go to school, but if there's no food, they stay home."

It is the same desperate story from one village to the next across the southern province of Choluteca - one of the poorest regions of Honduras - where the two-month drought has devastated more than 27,000 hectares of basic grain crops, affecting over 12,000 peasant families - most of whom depend totally on the yearly harvest.

Farmer Mariano Gomez
Mariano Gomez is dismayed at the state of his corn fields
"It's terribly worrying seeing the milpa - corn fields - like this. It's our daily bread, you know," says Mariano Gomez, 59, his trembling hands fingering the tiny cobs that by this time of year should be fat and healthy, ready for picking.

He has nothing to show for the corn that he planted back in May, when the first rains fell, heralding what was expected to be a normal wet season.

Two weeks later the skies brightened and the clouds disappeared.

The sporadic storms that have fallen since then have served only to paint the countryside a deceptive shade of green.

But it is just weeds and undergrowth sprouting from the bone-dry earth.

The grain crops - the staple diet for Central American peasants that would normally see a family through the rest of the year - are beyond salvation.

With no resources to fall back upon and no work to be found, poor farmers like Mariano Gomez are now beginning to sell their few farm animals in order to buy food. Those who do not have a chicken or pig to sell are simply going hungry.

Landscape
The countryside is a deceptive shade of green after recent storms
Choluteca was one of the areas hardest hit by droughts brought by the weather phenomenon "El Nino" in 1997, and, a year later, by the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch.

Claudia Von Roehl, Honduras country representative of the United Nations World Food Programme - which has begun distributing limited food stocks to the worst-affected communities - says that longer-term solutions are needed to address these recurring problems.

She says: "In an age of globalisation we face global climate changes, which is something that no development funding or no food aid can address in a global manner.

"It's a global problem of climate change, deforestation, and abuse of natural resources. All we can do is just try to avoid the worst."

See also:

25 Jul 01 | Americas
Honduras declares drought emergency
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Honduras
22 Jul 01 | Media reports
Central America alarmed at crop failure
21 Jul 01 | Americas
Central America 'faces food crisis'
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories