by Anne Edgerton
ChildFund Disaster Management Team Leader
Guatemala is experiencing the beginning of a nutritional emergency caused by drought in the country’s eastern region, known as the coredor seco — the dry corridor.
The lack of rainfall caused some Guatemalans to lose their entire harvest for 2009. The loss will have a year-long impact on these agricultural communities, as each family normally stores its harvest until the next rainy season. They depend on their crops to provide food for all family members.
This crisis is predicted to increase in gravity this month. In the coming months, affected families will not only lack their own food stores, the poorest community members will be unable to purchase food, as prices spike during a drought.
In Guatemala, the agricultural sector accounts for one-fourth of national GDP. The drought has already generated a high local unemployment rate, eliminating subsistence agriculture as a form of employment.
Given all of these deteriorating conditions, malnutrition is already present in children under age five in some communities. In response, ChildFund Guatemala is redirecting funds in affected communities to address this crisis. We will be providing nutritional supplementary food to the most vulnerable children in ChildFund communities. In addition, we will be working with parents on the use of kitchen gardens and orchards and providing education on nutritional health. By introducing alternative resources and skills, we aim to help children and families better cope with this crisis.
In the eastern areas where ChildFund works, there are no other international partners. ChildFund will use current community-based monitoring systems and will increase coordination with Guatemala’s Ministry of Health as a means of strengthening community management of malnutrition.
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