Guatemala's income distribution is among the most unequal in the world, with more than half of its population living below the national poverty line and more than one in 10 people living in extreme poverty.
This poverty is highly concentrated among indigenous communities, which comprise more than 40 per cent of the total population. Nearly half of Guatemala's children under the age of five are severely malnourished — one of the highest rates in the world.
At the same time, many studies show an increase in droughts and hurricanes. This is linked to changing weather patterns in Guatemala and the rest of Central America. In 2014, the Government of Guatemala declared a national emergency due to the severe drought caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon.
What we're doing
We take a holistic approach to addressing malnutrition in Guatemala and currently work in Chiquimula, Escuintla and Santa Rosa to help communities cope with disasters such as floods and drought, and overcome the seasonal food shortages that lead to malnutrition.
Our programmes provide supplementary food to children affected by food shortages and treat those suffering from severe acute malnutrition, the most serious form of hunger. We also promote good water, sanitation and hygiene practices and implement agricultural programmes aimed at helping families throughout the hunger season – the period in between harvests when food from the previous harvest has been used. This can include helping families grow a different mix of crops that could be harvested year-round.
We also work in collaboration with national and local authorities to address the impact of annual food shortages, drought and flooding, by building local capacity to cope with disasters and improving early warning systems.
And we respond to acute emergencies by supplying emergency food and vitamin supplements, supplying tools to assist the local clean-up efforts, repairing damaged wells and restoring safe water sources where flood damage contaminates supplies.