Climate change is forcing farmers to migrate from Central America

In Central America’s Dry Corridor, a historically drought-prone region that stretches from Mexico to Panama and is home to 10.5 million people, climate change is producing longer and more frequent dry spells and forcing a growing number of farmers to attempt to migrate to the U.S., according to FERN’s latest story, published with The Weather Channel.

“Central Americans head north for many reasons — to flee gang violence, reunify their families, and to chase economic opportunity,” writes Anna-Catherine Brigida. “But in the Dry Corridor, at least, drought, and the hunger that results, is now among the leading drivers of migration. In 2014 and 2015, farmers lost their entire harvests to drought. Salvadoran farmers had another tough year in 2018, losing anywhere from half to all their harvest.

“The droughts led to the highest level of food insecurity in the region on record, according to the World Food Program,” Brigida reports. “In Guatemala from 2014 to 2016, 95 percent of the migrants from the Dry Corridor left because they didn’t have enough food or because they lost their harvest. In El Salvador, poverty, particularly in relation to increased drought and insect plagues, was shown to be the second most common reason people left, after gang violence.”

José Ramón Campos López, a 40-year-old farmer from San Carlos Lempa, El Salvador, has tried three times to get to the U.S., but each time he was caught and sent back. He makes clear he will almost certainly try again. “Of course climate change exists, and the truth is it greatly affects us,” he said. “In 15 or 20 years, what’s it going to be like if we don’t do something now?

“Every day you become more desperate, and so you make the journey to the U.S.,” Campos López said.