Posted on January 24, 2018
In Guatemala, hunger is more than temporary. In this Central American nation of approximately 16 million people, high rates of food insecurity, poverty, and hunger have given rise to an especially terrible challenge. Learn more about child malnutrition in Guatemala and how you can help.
Guatemala’s nutrition and health statistics are staggering. In terms of water alone, environmental researchers estimate that nearly 98 percent of all water in Guatemala is contaminated. This has left nearly 3 million Guatemalans without reliable access to clean drinking water. While two thirds of the population is forced to survive on less than two dollars a day, the nutrition and overall health outlook for Guatemalan children is dire.
By conservative estimates, the current food and water situation in Guatemala has directly caused 43 percent of the nation’s youth under 5 years of age to suffer from chronic and sustained malnutrition. As with many of Guatemala’s health issues, this problem is only compounded in the rural regions of the country. In these areas, home to the bulk of Guatemala’s indigenous population, almost 83 percent of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.
The Cost Of Malnutrition
With extremely high rates of poverty and ensuing child malnutrition in Guatemala, it is no surprise that the country has the lowest life expectancy at birth in the entire region. For children who do survive infancy, continuing chronic malnutrition carries negative health effects that can last a lifetime. Almost half (46.5 percent) of all Guatemalan children suffer from stunted growth. In some rural, largely indigenous areas, this rate jumps to 90 percent.
Of course, children experiencing stunted growth and other problems related to undernourishment require extensive medical care to ensure survival. Unfortunately, Guatemala finds itself without the needed medical infrastructure and has only about 16 thousand doctors spread across a country of 16 million people. For many struggling Guatemalan families, particularly those in rural areas, child healthcare is simply unattainable.
Apart from the real-time health effects, chronic malnutrition is also a direct impediment to nearly every other facet of normal childhood. Cognitive functions, emotional development, and mental growth are all directly blocked or stymied by inadequate nutrition, only exacerbating Guatemala’s long-standing education crisis and continuing the cycle of poverty for millions of children.
How You Can Help
Many groups are aiming to help the children of Guatemala. Through its Hogar Heroes campaign, Work, Play, Love, has made a commitment to providing Guatemalan children with housing, education, nutritious food, and most importantly, the space to be a kid.
Following the construction and opening of a girl’s orphanage, Maria Auxiliadora Hogar, as well as the ongoing operation of a neighboring boy’s orphanage, Hogar Heroes is looking to do more. But we need your help.
With your support, we can continue our mission of improving the lives of Guatemala’s children. Your contribution will go directly toward the upkeep and improvement of existing orphanages’ food costs, the expansion of educational facilities and general support of the children.
Make a difference in the life of a Guatemalan child.