GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala’s government declared a state of emergency in 16 of the country’s 22 provinces Monday as Central America suffers one its worst droughts in decades. Experts have warned that major crop losses – mostly in the region's staples of corn and beans - and the deaths of hundreds of cattle could leave hundreds of thousands of families without food. More than 236,000 families have already been affected, mainly in western and central Guatemala.
The state of emergency declaration, which must be approved by lawmakers, would allow the government to provide funds to those who have lost their crops, and to stabilize food prices. In Nicaragua, where the drought has killed more than 2,500 cattle and left 600,000 people in a state of malnutrition, the government is asking international food agencies to help it feed 100,000 families in parched areas.