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Emergency Food Assistance to Families Affected by Acute Malnutrition and Food Insecurity



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This Operation has been modified as per Budget revision 32(see below). from 1 January to 31 March 2011

Guatemala is facing a prolonged economic and food security crisis, which has been further exacerbated by an extended drought. Already more than 50 children are reported to have died due to acute malnutrition. 

The global economic downturn has reduced the overall flow of remittances (about 11 percent of GDP in 2008) by about 9 percent in 2009, which has affected over half of the country’s estimated 3 million families. Exports, foreign investment, tourism revenues, and access to credit have also been reduced, while the Government’s budget deficit and unemployment rate have risen. An increase in the price of agricultural inputs has limited the availability of subsidized fertilizers and high quality seeds, negatively affecting the country’s subsistence farmers. The FAO/WFP Crop Food Security Assessment Mission of November 2009 has confirmed that the maize and beans crops (the main crops) have been severely affected by the drought, with losses for subsistence farmers ranging from between 50 and 100 percent. The combination of these factors is further restricting access to food for already impoverished and food-insecure families and has led to the launch of a United Nations Humanitarian Appeal for Guatemala to fund urgently needed life-saving operations.

In October 2009, a Food Security and Nutrition Assessment, in the extended dry corridor (departments of Baja Verapaz, El Progreso, Zacapa, Chiquimula, Jutiapa, Santa Rosa, Jalapa, El Quiché and Izabal), conducted by the Humanitarian Network, found that almost 33.6 percent of families (136,000 families, or 680,000 people) were food insecure and running out of food stocks. The assessment found that an estimated 11 percent of children from the surveyed households were suffering from acute malnutrition (5 percent severe acute malnutrition and 6 percent moderate acute malnutrition)2 . The January 2010 Mesoamerican Food Security Early Warning System’ report has warned that casual labour opportunities will also substantially decrease leaving subsistence farmers’ families with no other options to acquire food.

Preliminary findings of a third assessment of January 2010, also carried out with the Humanitarian Network and covering most of the highlands also indicated rising acute malnutrition3 and that some 573,000 families are food insecure. There are growing concerns among the international community and the Government that malnutrition rates in these areas may increase further; this will be carefully monitored in the coming months.

Over recent months, the Government has carried out several relief operations delivering a substantial portion of humanitarian assistance to beneficiaries. The Government declared a ‘State of Public Calamity’ on 8 September 2009, which has since been extended, andrequested international /UN/WFP suport in responding to urgent humanitarian needs. This request was reiterated to WFP by the President of Guatemala on 26 March 2010, during a meeting at WFP headquarters in Rome. WFP launched emergency support with funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and an Immediate Response-Emergency Operation (IR-EMOP) 200072, benefitting 23,500 families, 500 pregnant and lactating women and 1,500 children suffering from acute malnutrition.

In order to provide further support, this emergency operation (EMOP) will respond to the worsening food security crisis among affected children, women and families in the extended dry corridor. Out of the estimated 136,000 food insecure families in the extended dry corridor, WFP will assist approximately 47,000 families in fifty municipalities through this EMOP. The objectives of the emergency operation are to: i) save lives and improve the food consumption of families affected by shocks (WFP Strategic Objective 1); and ii) support the re-establishment of the livelihoods and the food and nutritional security of communities and families affected by shocks (WFP Strategic Objective 3). The EMOP will contribute to Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1, 4 and 5.

The WFP food distributions will complement support from the Government of Guatemala, the Humanitarian Network, donors, and NGOs, so as to ensure the full coverage of the needs of the 136,000 affected families.

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