Threats to Food Security

  • Climate Change, recurring floods and droughts 
  • Difficult access to food and safe water
  • Subsistence farming
  • Chronic deprivation of socially vulnerable
  • Low sanitation levels
  • Low education levels



The face of Guatemalan hunger is young, female, indigenous and rural.

Guatemala has the highest chronic undernutrition rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, and fourth in the world. The situation worsens in rural areas where chronic undernutrition reaches 55 percent and 69 percent among indigenous populations. In the highlands of the country, seven out of ten children under 5 are chronically undernourished.

The country ranks 122 out of 182 countries in the 2009 Human Development Index (HDR, 2009). Inequity threatens development, and national health services cover approximately 60 percent of the country; most of the rural areas lack water and sanitation systems and have limited access to an adequate diet due to income restrictions. In rural areas, the minimum wage covers around 75 percent of the basic food basket. Poverty affects 51 percent of the population; extreme poverty affects 15 percent.

Guatemala is prone to natural disasters: droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and frosts are recurrent events which affect livelihoods of population living in vulnerable areas. In October 2008, Tropical Depression Nº 16 affected four departments of the country. In 2009, a severe drought in the so called “dry corridor” affected mainly nine departments and in 2010 two major events --Pacaya Volcano eruption and Tropical Storm Agatha-- evidenced the vulnerability of the country by affecting 21 of the country's 22 departments. Floods caused the loss of lives, housing, crops and communication infrastructures, and severely affected more than 150,000 people.
An Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) conducted in August by WFP, the Government  and other humanitarian partners revealed that some 330,000 people will need food assistance in the coming months in order to subsist.

WFP Activities

WFP's presence in Guatemala responds to priorities identified in coordination with the government to benefit the most vulnerable populations. WFP’s activities in Guatemala are geared towards reducing food insecurity, improving the nutritional status of mothers and children under 5 and living conditions of vulnerable groups by increasing agricultural productivity and farmer’s marketing practices.

  • Emergency Operation: WFP launched an Emergency Operation which distributes 12,675 metric tons of life-saving food to affected children and women of 40,000 families, from March to September 2010 in 50 municipalities, in coordination with the Government, the Humanitarian Network, EU and Private Volunteer Organisations supported by the US Agency for International Development.
  • Mother and Child Vitacereal™: Supports the National Strategy to Reduce Chronic Undernutrition with the provision of Vitacereal™ (a locally produced, fortified and blended food) to 100,000 children aged 6 to 35 months and 50,000 pregnant or lactating women, in areas with more than 60 percent chronic undernutrition.
  • Regional Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation: Provides assistance to food-insecure populations and particularly, 25,000 families whose livelihoods were affected by 2009 severe drought, following the Government of Guatemala’s declaration of a “state of public calamity” on September 8, 2009.
  • Country Programme: In order to reduce chronic undernutrition 45,500 beneficiaries will receive supplementary feeding and 12,000 subsistence farmers will be assisted to improve livelihoods starting 2011. The Country Programme will connect 3,000 small farmers to the markets. 
  • Purchase for Progress: Targets 3,700 members of 36 small farmers’ organizations, aiming to build links between farmers and markets and encourage group marketing. Grain quantity and quality are improved through best practices and post harvest management. Training modules emphasizes marketing and management skills, strengthening of farmers’ organizations, and women’s participation in decision-making positions. Learn more
  • Food Facility Programme: Seeks to improve agricultural production and the nutritional status of children and pregnant or lactating women. The Programme promotes good agricultural practices, technical assistance to small farmers and training on administrative aspects and markets, with the involvement of local authorities. It also promotes prevention strategies on malnutrition, and communication activities for behaviour change.
    Beneficiaries include 4,000 organized farmers; 100,000 children and 50,000 pregnant or lactating women; and 8,000 subsistence farmers.

WFP Offices

Head Office