-Guatemala has the fourth-highest level of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean; approximately 50 percent of Guatemalan children younger than five years of age are stunted due to chronic food insecurity. Within indigenous areas, nearly 70 percent of the population is chronically malnourished.
Consecutive years of drought in Central America’s Dry Corridor—a region that encompasses a large portion of southern Guatemala—have exacerbated food insecurity among poor households. Poor rainfall has resulted in several years of 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.
Recent periods of dryness in the eastern and western regions of Guatemala has resulted in decreased corn and bean crop production, forcing households to purchase staple foods from markets earlier in the year than usual, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). In addition, poor households in the Dry Corridor are still struggling to recover from indebtedness and a loss of assets due to consecutive years of low agricultural production. As a result, Dry Corridor communities in Guatemala—currently facing Stressed (IPC 2) levels of acute food insecurity—are projected to likely face Crisis (IPC 3) levels by February 2019, according to FEWS NET.
In response to the drought crisis, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) supports Save the Children to provide cash transfers for food to 4,000 food-insecure households in the Dry Corridor’s Quiché Department, enabling families to purchase nutritious foods available in markets while supporting local economies and agricultural producers. This program also provides vulnerable households with training on agricultural best practices, livelihoods strategies and nutrition.
In addition, FFP partners with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to provide cash transfers for food to approximately 4,500 foodinsecure households in the Dry Corridor’s Chiquimula, El Progreso and Zacapa departments, as well as training aimed at increasing agricultural production and livelihoods opportunities, improving financial literacy and preventing malnutrition.
Finally, FFP supports two multi-year development programs that empower communities to strengthen food security and resilience to shocks. Both programs are scheduled to continue until December 2018.