Forgotten Crisis: Guatemalans go hungry

It may not have reached our front pages, but across the Atlantivc celebrities like Christian Aguilera have highlighted the plight of thousands of Guatemalans facing starvation. Rural Guatemalans are facing food shortages in a country with the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world according to the WFP. Almost 70% of the population live in poverty, with limited access to water, sanitation and health services. Their insufficient income hardly provides for an adequate diet, and there are few resources to deal with natural disasters such as hurricanes that plague the region.

Guatemala’s President has declared a situation of ‘public calamity’ to try and attract funds to the region. The food crisis affecting the majority of the population has partly resulted from poor rains leading to failed harvests, but rising food prices have also contributed to the spreading poverty across the nation. The international community have responded by sending much needed aid, with the WFP launching campaigns to raise funds for essential projects in the country.

However, even the country’s President Alvaro Colom has admitted that it is not just drought that has pushed the country into crisis. There is food, but most of the population cannot afford to buy it. The missing link lies in the unequal distribution of land, creating a situation of food insecurity. Recent shifts in agricultural production have focused on producing produce for export, such as palm oil and sugar cane for biofuel, threatening the livelihoods of the rural poor, and undermining the country’s production of food, leaving the population increasingly vulnerable.

The country cannot continue to rely on aid to feed its population, but without clear reforms that will address the huge inequalities within society, Guatemalans will continue to go hungry for years to come.

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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