Hunger Without Borders, The hidden links between Food Insecurity, Violence and Migration in the Northern Triangle of Central America

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“Migration has always been linked to income disparities between countries, socio-economic instability, and population pressures; however, this is the first time food insecurity has been specifically singled out as a trigger for migration,” said WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Miguel Barreto. “This exploratory study is important because it underscores the need to invest in food security to prevent migration.”

“This study launched with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS), and the collaboration of the London School of Economics (LSE), sheds light on the increase reliance on migration as a coping mechanism among the people living in the Northern Triangle of Central America,” said IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Marcelo Pisani. “It raises awareness of the current situation affecting millions of vulnerable people in the region.”

“Migrants are, first and foremost, human beings with human rights, and those rights are and must be at the center of any debates on migrants and migratory policies,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. “Today as we launch this study, it is an opportunity to reiterate that this phenomenon demands the united efforts of international cooperation to meet the needs of a part of the population as vulnerable as migrants.”

A WFP food security assessment carried out in 2014 among families affected by the drought in Central America found that a significant percentage of households reported at least one family member migrating in search of employment. 

A severe prolonged drought in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has affected the food security of subsistence farmers and their families living in the Dry Corridor, many of whom only harvest once a year, and are struggling to recover from last year’s drought. The forecasts for the 2015 agricultural season are alarming, especially with the occurrence of El Niño, which may last until the beginning of 2016.

The study also found that violence could be a push factor for outward migration in Guatemala and Honduras but not necessarily in El Salvador. This might be explained by the fact that some people have become accustomed to violence, and in some cases it no longer influences their decision to migrate or not.


World Food Programme