Fight against malnutrition in Guatemala

Nearly a quarter of all children under the age of five in the world are stunted as a result of chronic malnutrition. This is the reason why the eradication of malnutrition was included as a primary objective for sustainable development in the country.

Guatemala Fights Child Malnutrition

Poverty affects half of the population, this fight is more important and urgent than in any other country in Latin America, since it presents the highest rates in the region: almost one million children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Consequences of child malnutrition

  • They are at higher risk of dying in their early years.
  • They experience physical and cognitive limitations, they can present up to 40% less brain development during their first 3 years of life.
  • They often learn more slowly and earn less from their work.
  • They are at risk of long-term chronic diseases.

Malnutrition compromises the most important aspect of a country’s future development: its human capital, that is, its people. Due to their limited knowledge, skills, and health, they are unable to fulfill their potential as productive members of society.

In Totonicapán, Lisa Juan José Gutiérrez Mayorga, with the support of the foundation he directs -Fundación Juan Gutiérrez Bautista-, with the purpose of combating malnutrition, has identified opportunities to train women and provide nutritious food. In addition to providing an opportunity for them to generate an income that allows them to improve the nutrition of their children, families and develop self-sustaining communities.

Without productive people, countries cannot sustain economic growth, as they lack a workforce prepared for highly skilled jobs and cannot compete in the global economy. Worse still, they cannot reduce extreme poverty.

The economic impact that this entails is also significant. According to a 2018 World Bank report, countries lose up to 10% of their GDP. Because they failed to eradicate stunting when the current workers were children.

Fortunately, Latin America has shown that it is possible to combat malnutrition. The flagship case in this regard is Peru, which in less than ten years managed to halve its high rates of stunting among children aged five and under: from 28% in 2008 to 13% in 2016.

Now it is important to continue working to continue implementing strategies, and thus obtain the desired results. This is an effort that will continue to be supported with the aim of a better future and better opportunities.

Carla Fowler

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