Ayuda en Acción works to guarantee the right to food in Guatemala, especially with children and indigenous Mam and Ch’orti’s women.

In Guatemala, the right to food remains an unresolved issue, especially for women and children from indigenous communities. Ayuda en Acción has developed two projects with the support of the Andalusian Agency for Development Cooperation to tackle the hunger figures in this Latin American country.

Right to food in Guatemala: key figures

According to UNICEF, Guatemala ranks first in Latin America and sixth in the world in terms of child malnutrition. One out of every two children under the age of five suffers from chronic malnutrition, a situation that affects 49% of the country. The mortality rate stands at 3.4%, the main causes being pneumonia and acute diarrhoeal diseases associated with malnutrition.

Photo credit: Ayuda en Acción

One of the consequences of child malnutrition is school dropout due to the reduced attention span of students. Thus perpetuating a cycle of poverty that affects children’s full development and growth.

The climate crisis only exacerbates the situation. Climate variability has had an impact on household food security, especially in rural areas, which have witnessed a decrease or even disappearance of their food production.

“Green hope” project

The Dry Corridor of Guatemala represents the epicentre of climate change in the country. The main problems include prolonged droughts, high temperatures, soil erosion and even excessive humidity caused by the heavy rains of the La Niña phenomenon over the last three years.

Ayuda en Acción’s Esperanza Verde project has focused on addressing food insecurity among Ch’orti’s women, children and adolescents in 30 rural communities located in Jocotán and Camotán, in the department of Chiquimula.

Among the results of the intervention, the following stand out:

  • Ch’orti’s families (55% led by women) can now consume food in sufficient quantity and acceptable quality.
  • Climate-Smart Agriculture technologies, which is agriculture adapted to the environment, and community management of resources have played a key role.
  • More than 300 families enjoy the human right to safe water in sufficient quantity, acceptable quality and on equal terms through the construction of three water systems.
  • 270 Ch’orti’s women have gained access to 3 productive assets (knowledge, financing and technology) for the realisation of their rights to food, water, economic autonomy and citizen participation.
  • People in these communities know and apply community resilience practices in terms of humgand rights, gender and environment to face climate change.
The story of Glendy

Healthy child project

In the Waletb’anil project, which means “healthy child”, Ayuda en Acción has sought to reduce chronic child malnutrition in 11 Mam and Ch’ortí communities. They are located in the departments of Huehuetenango and Chiquimula, two areas of the country with high levels of poverty (73.8%, Huehuetenango Dept.; 70.6%, Chiquimula Dept.) and child malnutrition rates similar to those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The work has focused on pregnant and lactating women during the first 1,000 days after conception, a key period of time to prevent the irreversible and invisible effects of malnutrition.

Healthy child project video

Ayuda en Acción has worked with community health commissions, community prevention networks, midwives, mothers of children under the age of two, pregnant women and health personnel.

Photo credit: Ayuda en Acción

In this right to food project, training programmes on topics such as maternal, neonatal and infant health, early childhood care and attention, and the prevention of COVID-19 have also been of importance. Fortified and enriched foods have been presented through recipes of local products with high nutritional value. In addition, during the intervention, men’s co-responsibility in pre- and post-natal care has also been promoted.

Another key element has involved working with health service providers to include a gender and intercultural approach to women’s care in order to improve the quality, acceptability and inclusiveness of medical and health care for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

One of our goals in Alliance2015 is to transform systems to tackle hunger and malnutrition, prioritising sustainability, equity and the needs and rights of those who are marginalised.

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