Living on the Edge of Climate Change 


Searching for Answers in the Corridor
of Concern of Guatemala
Part 2 of 2

This is the second of a story series highlighting the challenges of the earth’s changing climate and its effect on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

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Latin America's Dry Corridor lives up to its name.

Being a farmer and raising a family even when there isn't drought is tough. Having no rain and a limited water supply makes it tougher.

 

Hugo is fighting for his family, making adaptations in what he grows and how he grows it.

 

But Hugo is not alone. Right down the road, Porfirio and his family are in the same battle; a battle for their future.

Water is a resource in short supply in Quiche, Guatemala where Porfirio and his family live.

Having access to water is a constant struggle.

Regular rainfall is the difference between having it all...

...and having this.

Farmers like Porfirio see the effects of climate change every season.

It leaves him continually searching for answers. For Porfirio, climate change changes everything.

Instead of a regular diet of corn, Porfirio has to give his pigs a mixture of grass and feed.

There's just not enough corn to feed his family and the pigs. The corn is not lasting more than two months. It used to last six.

Porfirio has had to pick up construction work at $5.00 a day. It's work that forces him to be away from his family.

“There is a way to survive, but right now we need resources,” Porfirio says. “We had never seen it like this. I like to work on the land, but seeing as last year there were losses, I was demoralized. There is no more love to continue working on this.”

But there are solutions found in the earth itself. Farmers like Porfirio are working to help the soil better capture what little water there is.

“You can leave more mulch on the ground. You can plant more shade. You can grow what they call ‘cover crops’ so your soil is not baking in the sun during these dry days and dry weeks,” says Dan McQuillan, head of agriculture for CRS Guatemala and Mexico.

Still, there is the prayer for a more reliable gift from above.

“We ask God to give us rain because that is what we need in our lives,” Porfirio says. “Because without water, we cannot have a harvest.”

Porfirio’s livelihood—and his children’s future — has become a high-stakes game.  It's a game he can’t afford to lose.

“Farmers need to change ‘business as usual’ if they’re going to adapt to climate change. And it’s not going to be easy. They’re not going to win every year. There’s going to be pressures and there’s going to be difficult years,” says McQuillan.

“But if you just give up and don’t change what you’ve been doing for the last 10, 20 years, there’s no way you’re going to be able stay on [in] farming.”

 

“What would I say to people that say climate change doesn’t exist? I’d say, ‘Come on down to Guatemala. We’ll have you anytime. Come out to the field. Walk with our farmers. Listen to their stories. See what they’re seeing, and experience what they’re experiencing,'" McQuillan says.

Living on the Edge of Climate Change


Searching for Answers in the Corridor
of Concern in Guatemala
Part 2 of 2

Credits

Photography by Phil Laubner, CRS
Written by Rebekah Lemke, CRS
Produced by Robyn Fieser, CRS

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