As part of the Running Dry series, the Guardian looks at how drought and famine are forcing Guatemalan families to choose between starvation and migration
At sunrise, the misty fields around the village of Guior are already dotted with men, women and children sowing maize after an overnight rainstorm.
After several years of drought, the downpour brought some hope of relief to the subsistence farmers in this part of eastern Guatemala.
But as Esteban Gutirrez, 30, takes a break from his work, he explains why he is still willing to incur crippling debts and risk his life to migrate to the United States.
My children have gone to bed hungry for the past three years. Our crops failed and the coffee farms have cut wages to $4 a day, he says, playing nervously with the white maize kernels in a plastic trough strapped to his waist.
We hope the harvest will be good, but until then we have only one quintal [46kg] of maize left which is barely enough for a month. I have to find a way to travel north, or else my children will suffer even more.
Central America remains one of the worlds most dangerous regions outside a warzone, where a toxic mix of violence, poverty and corruption has forced millions to flee their homes and head north in search of security.
But amid a deepening global climate crisis, drought, famine and the battle for dwindling natural resources are increasingly being recognized as major factors in the exodus.
Camotn is a collection of rural communities in the eastern department of Chiquimula, which lies in the rain shadow of the imposing Sierra de las Minas. It forms part of Central Americas dry corridor: a belt stretching south through Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, that receives little rain and is particularly susceptible to droughts and extreme weather.
In theory, the rainy season here should last from late April to October, with a drier period in July and August known as the cancula a regional peculiarity that requires two short harvests.
But the past decade has seen frequent, intense droughts and late rains due to unusually hot and dry canculas and prolonged years of El Nio the warm phase of a complex weather cyclecaused by increased Pacific surface temperatures.
Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/us