UN World Food Programme

Portraits Of Hunger: Francisca Casiano (Guatemala)

16 month-old Fracisca Casiano

Copyright: WFP/Photolibrary

In Guatemala, WFP’s vital programme providing nutritious food supplements to 100,000 children and 50,000 pregnant and lactating women, is hanging by a thread.

16 month-old Francisca Casiano is strong and healthy unlike so many Guatemalan children – almost half of whom are chronically malnourished.

Monthly rations of nutritious Vitacereal have given her the chance to develop properly – to avoid the physical and mental stunting that blights the lives of so many children from poor communities like hers.

But her health – and with it her hopes of a better future – remains fragile. Vitacereal will be vital for Fracisca’s development until she turns three. Without it, she would become malnourished and start to grow more slowly.

With funds running out, WFP may have to cut the Vitacereal programme in October.

Fracisca will not get the nutrition she needs for her brain and body to reach their full potential – ruining her future and continuing to trap her in a cycle of acute poverty and hunger. Hungry Get Hungrier As Food Aid Funding Stutters

An epicentre of child malnutrition and stunting

  • This month, the Guatemalan government declared a “State of National Calamity” due to a shortage of food to feed hungry rural communities in an area known as the “Dry Corridor.”
  •  Almost half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished – the 6th highest level in the world. In some rural areas, 80% of children are malnourished.
  • High food prices, the economic crisis and a steep drop in remittances, exacerbated by dry weather caused by El Nino, have contributed to increased food insecurity.
  • But WFP is short of funds – unless new donations are received, it will stop distributing rations in October to 100,000 malnourished children under 5 and 50,000 pregnant and lactating women.