Food Insecurity and Under-Nutrition in Guatemala
Guatemala experiences significant food security problems and has one of the highest levels of chronic infant under-nutrition in the Western hemisphere. Since the country is considered self-sufficient in the production of staple food, food insecurity is primarily related to food access rather than to availability, and is closely related to rural poverty. Food insecurity is concentrated in the country's Western Highlands and the Eastern dry areas, the country's poorest territories. While urban and semi-urban poverty has increased in recent years, the social groups most affected by poverty and food insecurity continue to be landless peasants, subsistence peasants, and traditional fishers. Policy responses have largely focused on food distribution, provision of social needs, or income transfers. These measures have been largely unsuccessful, in part because responses from a variety of actors have been dispersed and largely uncoordinated. As well, the role of agriculture as a key instrument of poverty reduction and food insecurity has been neglected. This project will review and influence food security and nutrition policies and practices for small-scale agriculture. The first dimension of the project consists in eight case studies that will analyze situations where food security and nutrition indicators have either improved or worsened in the country's four main agro-ecosystems. These studies will assess the effectiveness of targeted food security practices and policies by governmental and non-governmental organizations, and by international cooperation agencies. The project's second dimension consists in policy-oriented activities aimed at ensuring that the research findings reach a wide audience of key stakeholders across the government, donor, and civil society sectors. Key actors will be engaged through discussion groups, circulation of policy briefs, and workshops. The goal is producing better policies and interventions carried out by local, national, and international institutions.