Guatemalan Government might enact national food emergency!

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Mayan Families
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vpspeachHunger Emergency had been denounced by Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales. The Guatemalan government might agree to enact national nutrition risk after today’s cabinet meeting. About 49 percent of children in Guatemala are chronically malnourished according to the World Food Program—the fourth highest rate in the world. In indigenous communities the rate is closer to 70 percent.

According to data from the Secretary of Food Security (Sesan), director Lily Caravantes stated that at least 15,000 cases of chronic and acute malnutrition have been identifies in 2011 so far. This greatly affects children under five years. Lily Caravantes explained that a total of $ 26 million are needed for food aid to prevent starvation.

The National Food Security Council-CONASAN, will present the plan Nutritional Risk to President Alvaro Colom. This plan seeks to adopt long-term measures that comply with the protocol of the World Health Organization-WHO.

Vice President Dr. Rafael Espada explained today in general terms how the plan will work. The Plan consists of four parts: to investigate the availability of food and immediately address the problem, to ensure access to food teams with equipment will be mobilized to the affected communities, the food consumption will be evaluated mainly in the municipalities of greatest risk.

Espada explained that it will take six to eight weeks to distribute the food in high risk areas which are in located in 127 municipalities, 367 communities in 22 departments.

The European Union, EU, donated € 6.5 million (U.S. $ 9.42 million) last week. The EU representative in Guatemala, Rafael Senan, said the funds will go to support the Government in implementing policies for food security and nutrition 2012-2019.
With this contribution, the EU has donated a total of 40.3 million Euros (U.S. $ 44.10 million) for Food Emergencies in Guatemala since 2010.

The worst drought in 30 years happened in Guatemala in 2009, it created severe food shortages due to destruction of staple food crops and affected over 2.5 million people according to the UN. The two hurricanes Agatha and Alex and the volcano explosion of Pacaya that affected Guatemala in 2010 caused extensive damages by volcanic ashes and torrential rains that destroyed much of the agricultural production and severely hit Guatemalan infrastructure. Guatemala needed 980 million dollars to rebuild, quoted a UN-led research team. Prices of corn are higher than they have been in four years, at 15.60 dollars per 100 pounds, compared to 12.20 dollars in 2009. The cost of black beans has also gone up, from 52.70 dollars per hundred pounds in 2009 to 57.20 dollars in 2010 according to FAO.

The increase in staple food prices hit an all time high this year, (FAO) all these factors combined with high inflation rates in the country and severe effects of climate change like increased desertification and decrease of water availability have a devastating effect on the nutritional status of the poorer population.

Guatemalan Congress will discuss the approval of emergency funds for the current food crisis. The issue of a tax reform to address the structural roots of hunger in Guatemala faces stiff opposition by the private sector and the chambers of commerce in Guatemala (CACIF). “No tax increase without transparency of governmental spending” is the mayor reason the opposition presents.

Here is the original link: http://www.guatemala-times.com/news/guatemala/2237-guatemalan-government-might-enact-national-food-emergency.html
According to the EU, World Bank, the US, ECLAC and many other institutions and governments, the tax revenues in Guatemala are the lowest in the region with Haiti and development is impossible without addressing a comprehensive tax reform.

Approximately 75 percent of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line, which is defined as an income that is insufficient to purchase a basic basket of goods and services. Almost 58 percent of the population have incomes below the extreme poverty line, which is defined as the amount needed to purchase a basic basket of food. Poverty is especially prevalent in rural areas in the North, Northwest, and Southwest and occurs primarily among the poorly educated and indigenous members of the population. More than 90 percent of the indigenous population live on an income that is lower than the poverty line.

Photo: Vice President of Guatemala, Dr. Rafael Espada

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