Residents of southern Honduras brace for predicted drought


Residents of this impoverished municipality in southern Honduras hope that the severe drought that has been predicted for early of 2019 because of El Niño does not destroy the harvests that sustain them.

“We place our hope in God to send us some rain to stockpile a little to survive if there is a prolonged drought, but it’s very difficult when we are in a municipality with a very large population,” Concepcion de Maria Mayor Vilma Yamileth Ordoñez told EFE.

The municipality is located in the so-called Dry Corridor, which includes parts of several provinces of southern, central and western Honduras.

Traditionally, the rainy season in Concepcion de Maria runs from May to November, so farmers start preparing the land in March and April.

When drought comes, “everyone is affected because they don’t have harvests, which means they don’t have enough to sustain their households, much less to supply other needs,” the mayor said.

Concepcion de Maria has about 30,000 inhabitants who are bound together by poverty and vulnerability to drought.

Farmers such as Eduardo Moreno and Humberto Hernandez are beginning to shed the corn, a task that they do by pounding the ears in a hammock, but they have no idea whether the soil will be ready because of uncertainty about the rains.

Moreno’s “weather tracker” is the radio that brings him the forecasts and the news that the experts expect El Niño to keep the rain away.

Every year, Moreno plants a little more than 1 hectare (2.5 acres) and with a good rainy season, he can produce enough to sell a little and store the rest in silos to feed his family while awaiting the harvest in July and August.

For Hernandez, not even ideal weather conditions allow him to produce any more than what he needs for himself, his wife and their four children.

Life is also hard for women, as many have to walk long distances to wash clothes in rivers and streams that are little more than puddles.

“I come once a day to wash clothes, but come twice to carry water to bathe the children,” Siris Adilenia Mendoza told EFE.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez met Tuesday with officials of the institutions that are part of the National Irrigation Management System to design a strategy for facing the looming drought.

By German Reyes