Guatemala Food Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition Appeal 2010
Guatemala, Central America’s most populous country, is experiencing high levels of food insecurity and undernutrition as a result of recurrent natural disasters, environmental degradation, inadequate agricultural infrastructure and poor agricultural policies, among other factors. In 2009, Guatemala was severely affected by abnormal rainfall patterns brought on by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which caused high losses (between 60 and 80 percent) in subsistence agricultural production. Furthermore, the impact of the world financial crisis has decreased remittances, while increasing basic food prices, agricultural input costs and unemployment.
Guatemala, currently has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world, which has led to a rapid increase in mortality, especially among children under the age of five. During the 2009/10 agricultural season, rainfall levels were far below average in the central and eastern territories (El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Chiquimula, Zacapa and the Dry Corridor). Losses in agricultural production (between 50 to 100 percent for corn, beans, yucca and sorghum) have been reported in the Seco Corridor.
Small agricultural households face severe shortages in food reserves (in the Dry Corridor, 77.5 percent of households have no food reserves). The total number of families currently in need of emergency food and agricultural assistance is estimated at 145 400. These families rely on subsistence farming and seasonal jobs in commercial farms, which are also vulnerable to weather patterns and economic forces. In this context, a Food Security Appeal was prepared by various humanitarian partners in Guatemala, with FAO leading the Agriculture and Livelihoods Cluster. Under this Appeal, approximately USD 5 500 000 has been requested to support agricultural recovery, the framework of which includes the following priorities:
- production of basic grains (maize and beans) for 24 000 small farmers;
- fast growing vegetable production for 24 000 small farmers;
- restoration of animal production for 48 000 small farmers; and
- rural income generation (tree nursery and irrigation construction).
FAO’s emergency role in Guatemala
In Guatemala, FAO’s emergency activities are primarily focused on enabling those affected by natural disasters and soaring food prices to rebuild their livelihoods. Key activities, therefore, include:
- identification and evaluation of losses;
- procurement and distribution of appropriate seeds, fertilizers and agricultural tools;
- technical support;
- rehabilitation of damaged roads; and
- training in improved cultivation of maize and beans.