Paraguay is a low to middle-income country with a per capita gross national income (GNI) of US$ 4,010 (World Bank, 2014) and a population of 6.7 million. Paraguay is on track to reach a target of cutting by half the proportion of its population that suffers from hunger, according to the State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) report produced by WFP and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Undernourishment has been reduced by 46.6 percent since 1990, and although 10.4 percent of the population remains undernourished – defined as lacking sufficient calories for daily activities – Paraguay is on pace to achieve its target set under the Millennium Development Goals of eliminating undernourishment by 2020.

What are the current issues in Paraguay?

  • Natural Disasters

    Paraguay faces natural threats, including flooding along the Paraguay and Parana rivers, and particularly in Asuncion and the Department of Concepcion. These threats can hit vulnerable populations especially hard. The El Niño weather phenomenon has also contributed to above-normal rainfall and high temperatures in parts of Paraguay.

  • Poverty

    Paraguay falls below the Latin American average in several socioeconomic categories, including immunization rates, availability of potable water, sanitation, and secondary school enrolment. It also has greater rates of income inequality and child and maternal mortality than the Latin American average. Paraguay ranked 111 out of 188 countries on the 2015 Human Development Index, and 60 percent of the population relies directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. Because the wealth generated through agricultural exports is concentrated in very few hands, a substantial proportion of smallholder and subsistence farmers together with the landless rural population live in poverty or extreme poverty, making them vulnerable to food insecurity.

    While 10 percent of the total population lives in extreme poverty, this rate increases to 18 percent among the rural population (Directorate General for Statistics, Surveys and Census, 2014). Extreme poverty rates reach up to 57 percent among the indigenous population (World Bank, 2013).

  • Malnutrition

    The prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children aged under five is 17 percent, while the prevalence among indigenous children is 43 percent (National Institute for Food and Nutrition, 2010). About 28 percent of pregnant women are malnourished, which also results in a high prevalence of low birth weight. School enrolment has decreased from 99 percent in 2007 to 95 percent in 2011 (World Bank, 2011).

What is the World Food Programme doing in Paraguay?

WFP does not have a Country Office in Paraguay but in 2012, the agency established a satellite office in Asunción that is managed by the Bolivia Country Office.

WFP has developed a Country Strategy for Paraguay including such priorities as (i) vulnerability analysis mapping and targeting; (ii) improvement of national food-based safety-nets such as school feeding and complementary feeding, and (iii) emergency preparedness and response.

Currently, WFP is implementing innovative projects with a community-based development approach, to strengthen the capacities of the Government to carry out safety net programmes. WFP is providing technical assistance to the Government of Paraguay in various areas, like Food Security and Risk Management.

  • Food Security

    WFP is implementing two projects to improve food security for vulnerable populations in Paraguay.The Human Security Project is aimed at vulnerable households in the Chaco region and includes a WFP food security component targeting indigenous families by reinforcing school feeding programmes. As well, it features the Government’s Comprehensive Nutritional Food Program (PANI), which tackles undernourishment in children aged under 5 and will include a component for pregnant women. The Human Security Project brings together the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to work with WFP.

    The Food and Nutritional Security Joint Programme aims to protect the right to food access in rural Paraguay, with specific WFP activities to encourage local food production with an emphasis on risk management. It is financed through the Sustainable Development Goals Fund and managed jointly by FAO, PAHO/WHO, UNICEF, and WFP.

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response

    WFP has worked to strengthen the capacity of local and national governments for emergency preparedness and response, especially in logistics. WFP has carried out EFSA trainings, simulation exercises with local and national authorities, and improved the National Emergency Secretary’s depot infrastructures through logistic management trainings. This has involved such projects as the DIPECHO Action Plan 2015-2016. Implemented by WFP and UNDP, its capacity-building activities aim to strengthen the National Emergency Secretariat’s logistics abilities, and to improve civic-military cooperation for emergency responses with agreed protocols.

    The Paraguayan Government has requested WFP assistance in its response to three flood emergencies in recent years: Chaco in 2012, Asunción-Ñeembucu in 2014, and Asunción in 2016. In the last two operations, WFP provided assistance using cash-based transfers involving paper and electronic vouchers as well as cash.

World Food Programme partners in Paraguay

Featured Paraguay publications

  • Paraguay: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 315 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications? Visit the Paraguay publications archive.