Guatemala has a population of 14.7 million and ranks 131 out of 187 in the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index. The Gross National Income per capita is US$2,740. With a Gini index of 53.7, Guatemala is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The chronic undernutrition rate for children under 5 is 49.8 percent, the highest in the region and the fourth highest in the world. Guatemala is one of the 36 countries which account for 90 percent of stunting in the world. Chronic undernutrition in indigenous areas is 69.5 percent. Fifty-three percent of the population lives in poverty, and 13 percent in extreme poverty. The most vulnerable groups are indigenous women, girls and boys living in the highlands and the “dry corridor” (a semi-arid zone with periods of droughts, degraded soils and low agricultural yields). Illiteracy is 31.1 percent in women 15 years of age and older and reaches 59 percent among indigenous women.
Guatemala confronts an economic and food insecurity crisis, further exacerbated by extended drought. The global economic crisis has reduced remittances, exports, foreign investment, tourism revenues, and access to credit, thereby increasing the Government's budget deficit and unemployment. The rise in the price of agricultural inputs has reduced the availability of subsidized fertilizers and high quality seeds, negatively affecting subsistence farmers. The combination of these crises restricts access to food for already impoverished and food-insecure families. In addition, Guatemala is prone to recurrent disasters. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, landslides and droughts damage the livelihoods of unprepared populations living in vulnerable areas.