Our early work in Guatemala targeted farming efficiency, access to water, sanitation, and health care. One study found that basic health education could help avert diarrhea epidemics in children under age five. Researchers also developed a low-cost coffee drying machine powered by coffee waste instead of diesel.

In 1996, IDRC-funded peace and reconciliation initiatives contributed to the Guatemalan peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war. Since prejudice against indigenous people was a root cause of the war, we continue to support initiatives like the National Campaign for Inter-ethnic Dialogue, a public education campaign that reached about 120,000 Guatemalans between 2004 and 2006.

Fighting Chagas disease

Chagas disease, transmitted by insects, affects between 10 and 15 million people in Latin America — a greater burden of illness than all other tropical diseases combined. Left untreated, the disease produces irreversible organ damage and even death. Insecticide spraying, the traditional control strategy, must be repeated several times per year to be effective.

In 2004, IDRC-funded researchers pioneered an “ecohealth” approach to Chagas prevention that focused on the environment and its link to human health. Researchers garnered community support for improved hygiene and housekeeping practices — encouraging people to cover their mud walls with plaster, for example, to eliminate a common insect hideout. The results were dramatic: the average intervention eliminated infected insects for five years. Policymakers in Guatemala and six other Latin American countries have committed to use this approach.

Fairer taxes and benefits

Despite the fiscal reforms introduced by Latin American governments since the 1980s, a large gap remains between rich and poor. Together with the United Nations Development Programme, Guatemalan researchers have been coordinating studies on tax and benefit plans in Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay. Emerging results of this research continue to inform policy discussions in the region, including those between the governments of Guatemala and Canada.

Total IDRC Support

104 activities worth CA$18.5 million since 1975

World Bank/M.Fleischmann

Our support is helping

  • ensure enough drinkable water to offset climate change
  • reduce premature death and disability in Latin America
  • protect migrant women from gender violence
  • encourage students to drink healthier beverages
  • strengthen high-quality, influential policy research in Guatemala
  • eliminate Chagas disease, the most significant vector-borne disease in Latin America

Projects