Guatemala has the fourth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, approximately 50 percent of Guatemalan children under five years of age are stunted due to chronic food insecurity. Within indigenous areas, nearly 70 percent of the population is chronically malnourished
Four years of consecutive drought in Central America’s Dry Corridor—a region that encompasses a large portion of southern Guatemala—have exacerbated food insecurity among poor households. Over the past several years, Guatemala has suffered from consecutive poor harvests, which have led to limited agricultural production, lost labor opportunities and reduced household incomes, making it more difficult for vulnerable families to access enough nutritious food.
Food production during the August-to-September agricultural harvest season has resulted in a decrease in staple food prices and an increase in food availability and agricultural employment opportunities, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). However, poor households in the Dry Corridor are expected to continue to face Stressed (IPC 2) levels of food insecurity through at least May 2018, as a result of indebtedness and loss of assets due to consecutive years of low agricultural production.
In response to the drought crisis, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) supports the UN World Food Program (WFP) and NGOs to provide food assistance to vulnerable households throughout the Dry Corridor. In an effort to reduce food and nutrition insecurity and mitigate impacts of the drought, FFP provides assistance in the form of cash transfers for food, food vouchers, cash-for-training and cash-for-assets programs.
FFP also supports two ongoing, multi-year development programs that empower communities to build food security and resilience to shocks. These programs—implemented in partnership with Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children—aim to improve maternal and child health and increase household access to food. In particular, programs focus on training communities to better manage natural resources and boost access to agricultural and non-agricultural livelihoods opportunities and financial services.