Guatemala's levels of food and nutritional insecurity are among the worst in the world. Guatemala has the highest national levels of chronic malnutrition (43.4 percent) in the Western Hemisphere, levels that are higher than many African nations.
The Government of Guatemala (GOG) declared a food security state of emergency in September 2009. This ongoing crisis is due to a number of factors including climatic changes, the economic crisis, reduction in remittances of 10 percent, and a poverty rate of 51 percent. Drought conditions caused by the El Niño effect resulted in crop losses (particularly corn) of $23 million between January and September 2009. The crisis is anticipated to expand from the Dry Corridor to the Highlands (Altiplano) within the next several months.
Food and nutritional insecurity is endemic in Guatemala. Lack of access to assets (land, capital, education) has resulted in a persistent state of chronic malnutrition, especially in rural Guatemala. Such malnutrition is exacerbated by poor food utilization.
The GOG, the United States Government (USG), other donors and the private sector have worked for several years toward reducing malnutrition in Guatemala. Malnutrition rates have declined from 49 percent in 2002 to 43.4 percent in 2008/2009. With more resources and attention of the GOG and USG, further declines in malnutrition could be realized. As part of the new Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative (GHFSI), the USG will move to address directly the needs of Guatemala's most vulnerable. In doing so, the USG will take a strong stand to support the GOG's concrete actions to address the food security crisis, including an update of the GOG's Strategic Plan for Food Security and Nutrition (PESAN) and the establishment of a public-private sector roundtable for donor, government, and civil society coordination.
The USG approach to development of a new, comprehensive strategy to build food security in Guatemala will begin by identifying areas where the USG has a comparative advantage and a strategic interest in supporting GOG objectives.
In the following implementation plan, the USG proposes to build the capacity of Guatemala to implement a country-led, comprehensive food security strategy aimed at addressing the underlying causes of chronic malnutrition and curtailing the onset of hunger crises. In doing so, the USG proposes an increased focus on rural development. Priorities include market-led interventions that generate jobs and incomes for the vulnerable populations, nutrition, coordinated humanitarian assistance and efforts to improve both agriculture and non-agricultural rural incomes. In FY 10, the USG will identify synergies between USAID and other USG programs, initiate broad consultation with stakeholders, and conduct analyses that will contribute to the overall success of the GHFSI and support progress toward the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.