El Salvador: Acute Food Insecurity Situation November 2020 - February 2021 and Projections for March to May 2021 and June to August 2021
1.04 million people expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity during the lean season from June to August 2021
01.11.2020 > 31.08.2021


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During the current period from November 2020 to February 2021, 684,000 people (10% of the analysed population) are facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) and require urgent action to save lives and livelihoods. Of these people, 589,000 are classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 95,000 in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The worst affected department is Ahuachapán which is classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while the rest of the country's departments have been classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The worst affected populations are those who depend on agricultural and livestock activities, work in the informal sector and own small businesses. These groups have experienced income losses due to mobility and transportation restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had to resort to using Crisis or Emergency coping strategies to address food gaps, such as the sale of productive assets. The economic effects of COVID-19 have been counteracted by national and international humanitarian aid given between April and June 2020, which helped avoid a more severe food insecurity situation in this period. 

During the first projection period from March to May 2021, the population classified in IPC Phase 3 and above is expected to increase to 985,000 people, and again in the second projection period (between June and August 2021) to 1.04 million people. In both projection periods, the departments of Ahuachapán, La Unión and San Miguel will likely be classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) while the rest of the departments are expected to be classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Key Drivers:

Natural Disasters:

Tropical storms Amanda and Cristóbal, and Hurricanes ETA and IOTA caused losses of basic grains, vegetables and coffee. The supply of agricultural day laborers was reduced as a result, along with income from harvest sales. The availability of and access to food has also been hindered.

Reduced Agriculture Production:

Although new crops of basic grains are expected in the current period, agricultural losses have caused a large percentage of producers to run out of grain reserves, mainly beans. This also affects reserves for the projected periods.


Around 57% of households have experienced reduced sources of income due to less opportunities in the informal sector and agricultural sector. This reduction of income limits affected households’ access to basic services and food, and increases their use of coping strategies.


Movement restrictions enforced by the government to help control the spread of COVID-19 have limited access to markets, workplaces, and basic services. Currently the measures have been eased; however, transportation to access markets, workplaces, and basic services remains limited. The local economy has not yet recovered and border crossings continue to limit the movements of workers and merchants in the region.


Public insecurity, especially in urban areas, is an obstacle for the normal development of economic activities and negatively affects income generation.

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