Guatemala faces an on-going economic and food insecurity crisis that has been aggravated by prolonged drought and recurrent natural disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and landslides. These disasters damage the fragile livelihoods of the most vulnerable sections of Guatemalan society.
Guatemala has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world, at 47 percent, correlated with poverty, poor living conditions, low levels of education, and inappropriate nutrition practices. In recent years, extended periods of drought have aggravated this situation and resulted in reduced harvests or the complete failure of vital crops such as maize and beans. This has had a critical impact on subsistence farmers.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working in Guatemala since 1974, running assistance programmes that meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable households and those affected by disasters. WFP has worked with the Government of Guatemala to identify the vulnerable groups of people most in need of help - primarily the indigenous women and children living in the highlands and the Dry Corridor, a semi-arid zone where droughts and low soil quality result in low agricultural yields.
At the same time as delivering emergency food supplies and improving living conditions, our programmes aim to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and acute malnutrition in the country. This means a focus on increasing agricultural productivity and improving the marketing practices of farmers.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Guatemala
This programme is geared towards reducing chronic undernutrition. We deliver supplementary food to 37,000 people and assist 9,000 subsistence farmers to help improve their livelihoods. We also connect more than 3,600 smallholder farmers with markets. WFP conducts training to help farmers learn marketing and management skills, as well as encouraging women’s participation in decision-making.