Reducing food insecurity and malnutrition in Guatemala

Project Summary

The food security and nutritional (FSN) situation in Guatemala is deficient. The nation has one of the highest levels of chronic under nutrition for infants in the western hemisphere (FAO, 2010) since 49% of children under 5-years-old present chronic undernourishment. Chronic undernourishment rates average 58% among the indigenous population, compared to 31% in the non-indigenous population. Food insecurity is concentrated in the Western Highlands and the Eastern dry areas, which also correspond to Guatemala’s poorest territories. Although urban and semi-urban poverty have increased in recent years, the social groups most affected are landless peasants, subsistence peasants and traditional fishermen (MFEWS, 2005).

National and international NGOs, the private sector and international cooperation agencies make attempts to draw attention to food insecurity and poverty issues. The large number, magnitude and diversity of interventions demonstrate the willingness of many actors to work on this issue as well as the availability of considerable levels of financing to confront the problems. However, responses from national and international actors are disparate, sometimes incompatible and largely uncoordinated. The failure of policies is reflected on the fact that Guatemala’s poverty and food security indicators have stagnated during the last 20 years.

This project’s overall objective is to foster improved FSN in Guatemala through the review, comparison and selection of efficacious policies and practices for adoption in small scale agriculture. Two specific objectives are identified: i) To evaluate and compare relevant policies and practices designed to improve FSN in four different territories in Guatemala, and ii) To advocate policy changes in FSN among GO, NGO, private institutions and international cooperation agencies in Guatemala.

The methodology is divided into two components.

Component I will research and document the efficacy of specific practices and policies in four territories in Guatemala. Its purpose is to contribute with timely and useful scientific information to support policy decisions for GO, NGO and international cooperation agencies. The methodology takes territorial and systems approaches. A systems dynamics model will be developed to analyze the situation at the territorial level.

Component II will emphasize public information and advocacy based on the findings in Component I. Through the advocacy component, the project will stimulate the reorientation of existing and planned activities carried out by other institutions. The methodology will produce three main outputs: i) at least two institutions that work in Guatemala have incorporated this Project’s findings into their FSN agendas; ii) promotion of a public dialogue among relevant policy and development sectors; and iii) Discussion among Central American institutions related to FSN.

The proposing institution is the Universidad Rafael Landivar through its Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment (IARNA). IARNA is widely recognized for the high quality of the research it conducts in Guatemala. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (Guatemalan and Canadian offices) is a cooperating institution and will be responsible for the policy advocacy component. McGill University through the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, as well as its Arts Faculty, is also a cooperating institution. This alliance guarantees high quality of research as well as an effective advocacy programme.

Read the news release

Read the IDRC project summary (also available in French and Spanish)

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