A low to middle income country locked between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, Paraguay falls below the Latin American average in several socioeconomic categories, including income inequality, child and maternal mortality, immunization rates, sanitation, secondary school enrolment and availability of drinkable water.
Around 60 percent of the population rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, the wealth generated through agricultural exports is concentrated in very few hands, leaving a large proportion of smallholder and subsistence farmers – together with the landless rural population – in a condition of poverty or extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is more prevalent in rural areas, and reaches rates of up to 57 percent among indigenous communities.
Over the past decades, Paraguay has made significant progress in reducing malnutrition, which has fallen from 46.6 percent in 1990 to 10.4 percent today. The prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under five years of age is 17 percent, with peaks of 43 percent among indigenous children. About 28 percent of pregnant women are malnourished, which also results in high rates of low birth weight.
Food insecurity is heightened by the country’s vulnerability to natural threats, including flooding along the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, and particularly in the capital Asunción and in the Department of Concepción. The El Niño weather phenomenon has also contributed to above-normal rainfall and high temperatures in parts of Paraguay.
WFP does not have a Country Office in Paraguay but in 2012 the agency established a satellite office in Asunción that is managed by the Bolivia Country Office. The priorities in WFP’s Country Strategy for Paraguay include vulnerability analysis mapping and targeting; the improvement of national food-based safety nets such as school meals and complementary feeding; and emergency preparedness and response.
What is the World Food Programme doing in Paraguay?
Together with the Government of Paraguay, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WFP is implementing a project aimed at vulnerable families in the Chaco region, which includes a WFP food security component targeting indigenous families.
WFP also encourages local food production with an emphasis on risk management in a bid to protect the right to access to food in rural Paraguay.
Emergency preparedness and response
WFP works to strengthen the capacity of local and national governments for emergency preparedness and response, especially in logistics. The Paraguayan Government has requested WFP assistance in its response to three flood emergencies in recent years: Chaco in 2012, Asunción-Ñeembucu in 2014, and Asunción in 2016. In the last two operations, WFP provided cash-based assistance through paper and electronic vouchers as well as cash.