A growing water-food deficit powered by climate change is ramping up conflict in densely populated Central American cities already prone to violence, Axios‘ Ayurella Horn-Muller reports.

Why it matters: It’s no secret that water scarcity fuels domestic, social and political instability. The role of drought in agricultural production and food security, and how that correlates with conflict, is less understood.

  • Climate change and the global food crisis are on the agenda of this week’s annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in D.C.

The latest: A new study in the journal Nature Water finds that conditions in Central American rural areas can spike food insecurity in connected urban environments, due to impacts on food trade.

  • The paper links droughts, food access/availability and rates of urban conflict from 1996 to 2016 along the Central American “dry corridor.”

How it works: One example is the fallout of the 2009 drought in Guatemala, which drove major yield declines in agricultural production of coffee (-20%), sugarcane (-10%) and maize (-30%) in rural Retalhuleu, located in southwestern Guatemala.

  • This in turn spiked food insecurity in Guatemala City, which is connected to Retalhuleu through food trade, resulting in a total available food supply below the daily minimum energy requirement.

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