Guatemala: Hunger in a Lush Land
Throughout Guatemala’s fertile land lies a hidden struggle with chronic malnutrition and stunting, the highest in all of Latin America, and number six in the world. The children eat, however their diet is mostly beans and tortillas. For children under 5, stunted physical and mental developments are the results of a nutritional deficit, which may not be a good indicator for Guatemala’s economic future.
The government's anti-hunger efforts focus on food supplements to infants, and cup-o-noodles packages to schoolchildren, only causing the symptoms to linger and does not actually address the problem.
Guatemala, which has a population of 14 million, is one of the world’s top exporters of sugar, coffee, bananas and corn. However the worst hit by chronic hunger are the very farmers who sow and harvest the land. In several regions of the country, farmers are battling stronger waves of climate change, from intense storms to longer periods of droughts. Coupled with the rise in food prices, there is very little left to afford, or consume.
In 2010, more than 6,500 people died from hunger-related issues, 2,175 of whom were under five years, according to the Guatemala Human Rights Office.
Published in The Christian Science Monitor