THE AMERICAS AND CARIBBEAN Guatemala
A girl walks on a dirt road in Salquil Grande Village, El Quiché Department. In 2010, irregular rains and unusually high temperatures cut food production, leading to high levels of undernutrition among children.
Children and women in crisis
‘Not being able to get one’s head above water’ captures, literally and figuratively, the overwhelming nature of Guatemala’s emergency conditions in 2010. Not only does the country continue to be severely affected by erratic rains as a result of the El Niño phenomenon, but in 2010, Tropical Storm Agatha and the Pacaya volcanic eruption also hit, causing US$1.5 billion in damage and loss to the country and affecting 911,000 people, nearly 4 per cent of the population.1 The irregular rains and unusually high temperatures have negatively affected crop production, heightening the population’s food insecurity and leading to high levels of under-nutrition.2 Structural vulnerabilities in Guatemala, including limited land planning processes, poor economic and territorial development and the decline of existing ecosystems pose challenges to effective disaster recovery and preparedness.
Meeting urgent needs and building resilience in 2011
In 2011 UNICEF will have a positive impact on the lives of more than 100,000 children and women in the most-affected regions and communities, including the departments of Baja Verapaz, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Jalapa, Sololá, Suchitepéquez and Zacapa.
- To combat the slow weakening that undernutrition can cause in a population, 22,000 children and women in rural areas will receive micronutrients through fortified food, supplements or multiple micronutrient preparations. In addition, 660 children with severe acute malnutrition will receive treatment, with a goal of complete recovery and sustained health. UNICEF and partners will train 500 health staff, community workers and mothers in proper feeding of infants and young children.
- Around 80 per cent of children and women in shelters and communities affected by floods will receive routine life-saving vaccinations. UNICEF will provide vitamin A and deworming medications for 22,000 children.
- Together with the ministry of health, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam and Water for People, UNICEF will provide access to safe drinking water for 12,000 people in rural communities, as well as sanitation facilities in schools and shelters.
- To maintain continuity of education and a safe environment for children, UNICEF will provide school materials, furniture and textbooks to 25,300 preschool and primary school children. Children will also have access to psychosocial support through UNICEF-trained psychologists and teachers.
- UNICEF will increase from 10 to 70 the percentage of people in the affected departments who receive information on HIV prevention, care and support.
Humanitarian funding at work: Highlights from 2010
In 2010, UNICEF received US$1,424,695 for work in Guatemala, 15 per cent of the US$9,362,310 requested through two Flash Appeals. While full funding would have extended humanitarian assistance to more children and women, the funding that was received helped improve the welfare of many affected by Guatemala’s multiple emergencies. UNICEF supported the treatment of 500 children with severe acute malnutri-tion across a number of affected departments, and provided powdered multiple micronutrients to 20,000 children. Around 123,500 people (17,000 boys, 15,000 girls and 92,000 women) in temporary shelters opened due to the flooding and in the most-affected communities benefited from safe water and sanitation. Around 2,500 disaster-affected children received psychosocial support.
Funding requirements for 2011
For 2011, UNICEF is requesting US$2.65 million for its planned humanitarian work in Guatemala. This request is prompted by the extensive nature of the emergency in Guatemala, which resulted in two Flash Appeals in 2010. The gravity of the plight of women and children cannot be overlooked and requires immediate and full funding.
1 Government of the Republic of Guatemala, ‘Evaluación de daños y pérdidas sectoriales y estimación de necesidades ocasionados por desastres en Guatemala desde mayo a septiembre de 2010’ [Evaluation of damages, sectoral losses and needs estimates caused by disasters in Guatemala from May to September 2010], Guatemala City, 2010, pp. 21, 27.
2 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Guatemala: Efectos del cambio climatico sobre la agricultura [The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture], ECLAC, Mexico, June 2010, p. 1.
UNICEF Emergency Needs for 2011 (in US dollars) Total $2,650,000