Work Team to Guatemala
Situation in Guatemala
Health indicators in Guatemala fall behind nearly every other country in Central America. Although improvements have been noted, Guatemala’s infant mortality rate remains the highest in Central America and the third highest in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition (low height for age) in LAC and one of the highest in the world. At the national level, 49% of children under the age of five years are chronically malnourished (stunted) and nearly one quarter are underweight (low weight for age). If current patterns continue, it would take 20 years to eliminate stunting in the ladino and more than 80 years in indigenous populations.
Hunger is intolerably high in Guatemala and trends indicate it is getting worse. According to FAO figures, about 2.8 million of all Guatemalans are undernourished. This is twice the number of undernourished (1.4 million) in 1990-92. Domestic food production is failing to meet internal need in Guatemala. WFP estimates that local production of the three main staple crops of beans, rice and maize reaches only about 60% of the demand and food imports are increasing. Most of the rural poor (87%) depend on agriculture for their livelihoods in Guatemala. Nearly half (47%) farm on 2 hectares of land or less, while 2% of landowners own 70% of total land. The pattern repeats what is seen in much of the world; rural farmers experience the most poverty, face the most serious food shortages, and have the least access to land. They farm on smaller plots that are of inferior quality and are geographically remote. To aggravate the situation, access to financial services including credit, by the poor in Guatemala is severely limited and undermines an already high risk situation for rural households by eliminating a means to make farm purchases and/or to diversify livelihood sources.
Our work in Guatemala
This year, Medical Teams International will send 19 volunteer teams to support our work in San Juan Chamelco and to support the work of our partners, Food for the Hungry, Agros and Mercy Corps. Teams will focus on health and dental education and treatment, and work projects. Volunteers participating on work teams will contribute to community health through the construction of indoor cook stoves, water sanitation systems, reforestation of micro-watersheds, construction of community health centers and construction of sanitary latrines.
For a selection of photos of our work, see the Guatemala work teams' video.
Goals and objectives for this team trip
The goal for the team on this mission is to improve the physical, social, and spiritual health of the people in the municipality of San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala. The objectives are:
- Reduce the incidence and improve case management of pneumonia in children under 2 years old.
- Reduce the incidence and improve case management of childhood diarrhea in children under 2 years old.
- Reduce stunting and underweight conditions in children under 5 years old.
- Improve health of pregnant women and mothers.
The team will either build ventilated stoves or improved latrines, based on local needs and dependencies. The purpose of ventilated stoves is to reduce indoor air pollution and contribute to a reduction of pneumonia, particularly for children under 2 years old. Improved latrines will contribute to a reduction in the incidence of diarrhea.