Hunger in Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America, sharing a border with Mexico and Honduras. Active volcanoes border the nation, carving high mountains and desert valleys into the landscape. Despite its beautiful scenery, however, Guatemala is considered to be one of the most unequal societies in the world. With a population of over 16 million people, nearly half of Guatemala’s population struggles to afford even the most basic of food items, and according to the World Food Program, two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day. As a result, Guatemalan citizens continue to flee to neighboring countries, seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. Here are five things you should know about the impact of hunger in Guatemala.

5 Things to Know About Hunger in Guatemala

  1. Changing weather patterns cause food shortages in Guatemala. According to National Geographic, unpredictable weather patterns were what induced a devastating 2018 drought that was determined to be one of the worst in Guatemala’s history. Farmers rely on consistent weather patterns, and just a few unexpected changes in rainfall can spell disaster for food supplies. Guatemala has suffered from several long and sustained periods of drought over the past decade, and continues to experience increasing numbers of hurricanes and natural disasters. Severe El Niño storms and droughts are increasing in their intensity, forcing many families to flee their homes in hope of a better life.
  2. Children are the most vulnerable. A recent article by Reuters reports a 24% increase in malnutrition in children aged five years or younger. Even during the peak of the rain season, Guatemalan farmers are struggling to keep staple crops like wheat and grain safe from dry heat. As periodic drought continues to weaken Guatemala’s peak rain season, children experience the brunt of the impact, with their families are unable to afford food for daily meals.
  3. The government is working to improve nutrition. For some children, school meals may be the only ones that they receive. To address child malnutrition, the Guatemalan government passed a new law to increase investment in school meals for children. This law increases the reach of its school meal program to all of its departments, benefiting over 2.5 million school children across the country. Additionally, this expansion increases the economic impact of these nutritional meals, requiring 50% of the food for the program to be purchased from local farmers, in order to bolster local businesses.
  4. International organizations are focusing on female empowerment and education initiatives to fight hunger. The World Bank is working to target female farmers and connect them with markets for fresh food, including school feeding initiatives. By empowering these female farmers in Guatemala, the country is simultaneously increasing income equality and replenishing the food supply for impoverished children. Pilot programs by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization have shown success in strengthening these ties between female farmers and schools, ultimately keeping children in education and empowering local farmers. Overall, the programs have overwhelming public support, with 95% of school children enjoying the new menu implementations.
  5. USAID is contributing to Guatemalan efforts to reduce hunger. In addition to empowering local farmers and strengthening education initiatives, USAID currently oversees three main initiatives to increase the effectiveness of medical, educational and economic measures combating hunger in Guatemala – Feed the Future, the Global Health Initiative and the Global Climate Change Initiative. These initiatives include programs to expand the current Guatemalan infrastructure in partnership with nonprofit organizations, increase access to basic health care for citizens in rural areas, provide education and community outreach to convey the importance of a nutritious diet and streamline access to medical care and treatment for malnutrition.

The Guatemalan government and international organizations are working collaboratively to address the serious problem of nationwide hunger. While current projects are seeing substantial progress, sustained efforts will be needed as climate change continues to increase the influence of erratic weather patterns.

Amanda Ozaki-Laughon
Photo: Unsplash

Clinton Global InitiativeA lack of access to adequate health care is often a risk factor or symptom of poverty, as the inability to prevent or treat illnesses in a timely, affordable manner can devastate communities.

Following the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, USAID, the Clinton Global Initiative and other organizations have teamed up to create the Aspen Management Partnership for Health.

The Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health) is the first multi-sectoral partnership in the community health sector to focus on the leadership driving community health systems in developing nations.

Specifically, AMP Health hopes to strengthen the leadership and management of community health organizations. AMP Health combines the power of several different organizations in order to facilitate effective change.

This multi-sectoral partnership utilizes the power of USAID, the Aspen Institute, MDG Health Alliance, Born Free Africa, Margaret A. Cardill Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Partners in Health, the Harvard School of Public Health and McCann Health.

The partnership was announced at the Clinton Foundation’s 2015 Annual Meeting as one of their Commitments to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative.

“In addition to establishing mentor networks and cross-country convenings, the partners will recruit, train, and deploy in-country management professionals to work side-by-side with Ministries of Health on high-priority community health projects, ultimately strengthening health systems,” Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton said at the meeting.

The networks of trained, values-oriented health care professionals will be critical in advancing community health systems in developing nations.
Initially, the partnership will be utilized in sub-Saharan Africa, where community health interventions could save up to three million lives per year.

It will prove particularly relevant to reducing child and maternal mortality rates.

AMP Health incorporates businesses, governments, educational institutions, think tanks, multilateral organizations, and philanthropic foundations in order to affect change for community health systems.

While this may be just one of the Clinton Foundation’s 3,200 Commitments to Action, it carries much power and support from myriad organizations.

As a result of the multi-sectoral partnership, AMP Health can support sub-Saharan Africa as it works to prevent future epidemics, lower child and maternal mortality rates, and manage the treatment of chronic, non-communicable diseases.

– Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: Aspen Institute, Market Watch
Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
According to USAID, “More than 800 million people across the globe go to bed hungry every night.” In order to bring this famine to an end, the agency has teamed up with the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative.

The strategy of this approach is much more effective than simply delivering crates of food to different regions of the world. Feed the Future focuses on educating farmers on more efficient ways to increase agriculture. Since climate changes affect the way crops grow in some of the world’s poorest countries, the plan finds better ways to cultivate food.

“Recent studies suggest that every 1 percent increase in agricultural income per capita reduces the number of people living in extreme poverty by between 0.6 and 1.8 percent,” says Feed the Future.

Although its focus is on ensuring food security, Feed the Future also focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment. In most developing countries, women possess less power in the agricultural market, working for free with no control over farmland.

“There is consistent and compelling evidence that when the status of women is improved, agricultural productivity increases, poverty is reduced, and nutrition improves,” says Feed the Future.

One of its approaches is to introduce farmers to new technologies to help production. Written in Feed the Future’s progress report, a farmer in southern Bangladesh says, “This modern technology reduces my time in the field.”

So far, the initiative has helped nearly 7 million farmers and fed 12.5 million children. These farmers and children belong to countries in Central America, Africa and the Middle East.

Along with women’s empowerment and farm education, Feed the Future believes “a healthy, productive life requires adequate nutrition.” Since poor health can lead to disease and distraction from education, it directly correlates to the rate of poverty. By educating developing nations on proper health, these nations improve living conditions, as well as the physical and mental health of children.

Feed the Future also works with the Global Health Initiative and USAID Office of Food for Peace to secure meals across the world. As it continues to work with multiple sectors and partners, Feed the Future is looking for more ways to improve food security in developing countries. By focusing on the effects of greenhouse gases, and “by sustainably boosting agricultural yields and household income,” it is progressively finding ways to help farmers deal with climate changes.

Although the initiative has made great progress, its fight is not over as it continues to work with farmers across the globe.

Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: Feed the Future, USAID
Photo: USAID

Top 10 Global Health Blogs

Interested in global health? Check out this list of global health blogs!


PLOS Blogs covers a wide range of science and health topics but has a particular blog devoted to global health. Their Translational Global Health blog gathers knowledge and blogs from emerging knowledge leaders around the world. Most recently they highlighted the TEDMED 2013 conference. This blog is full of interesting information and is updated regularly which is why it took a spot on the top 10 list.


The Center for Global Development has a blog specifically dedicated to Global Health Policy.  Writers post on issues related to global health policy and changes going on within that arena. The articles are relevant and contain solid, evidence-based research and topics.


This is the media center for the World Health Organization. While not exactly a blog in the truest sense of the word, the media center offers news, events, features, stories, and resources on world health. It is comprehensive and contains a wealth of knowledge on global health which is why it made the list.


The official CDC blog contains all things related to global health.  The blog has a nice list of categories on the side and provides interesting and relevant information for the public relating to global health.  The CDC blog is a well-rounded source of global health information and resources.


The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is another excellent resource for world health.  They work through advocacy and policy to help change global health.  Within their health news section, they have a blog with short posts on news and events in both national and global health.


The Global Health Corps works with activists and leaders under the common vision that health is a human right. Fellows in the program work all over the world in various global health fields and blog about their experiences. The blog provides both information and a personal component highlighting the experience of the fellows as they work in global healthcare.


The American Public Health Association blog was chosen for its focus on advocacy and change. While the focus on global health is small, the organization has some great tips on advocating for change and activities one can do to get involved in advocacy and policy change.


The United Nations Foundation plays a significant role in global health. From eradicating polio to providing mosquito nets, the UN works hard in the arena of global health.  The blog is not especially focused on global health but covers an array of UN topics.  It can be narrowed down to global health topics and is a great resource for global development in general.


The Global Health Education Consortium made the list because of the extensive list of resources available to educators.  The resources tab under the home pages has units, PowerPoint presentations, and handouts on global health geared towards the classroom.  It is a great place to get students started in advocacy and awareness of global health issues and ways to get involved in global action.


Closing out the Top 10 list is the U.S. Global Health Initiative blog.  The GHI works to engage in global health through strategic engagement with foreign countries. Sustainability is key in the programs the GHI funds as well as the overall impact on global health. The blog provides updates on key programs and initiatives as well as news relating to global health.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Photo: Twitter