Recent Article About Malnutrition

CUYUTA, GUATEMALA – Children in Guatemala are starving. But like their parents, one might not notice.

There are few bones jutting out, few oversize heads and bellies. But a slow, deep hunger has been building in Guatemala for decades. And now it’s destroying a generation.

In the drab-sounding hamlet of Lote 14 (Lot 14), 100 kilometers south of the capital in the department of Escuintla, 2-year-old María sits still on her mother’s lap, her twig-like arms dangling limply. Weighing a third less than she should, María looks frighteningly small. Staring at the mud floor of their empty kitchen, her mother, Paulina Noj, explains the daily struggle to feed María and her other seven children.

Her husband is lucky – despite rampant unemployment, he has a job, but he only earns $40 a week. Before, that was just enough for them to buy the basics – corn and beans. But rising food prices have doubled the cost of corn over the past year and they can no longer get enough to feed all 10 in the family…rest of article.

Updated Photos from Lake Atitlan Nutrition Project

Here are the latest photos from Wuqu’ Kawoq from the Nutributter project funded by FedEx, and many individual donors.

Guatemala Pays High Price for Global Food System Failings

Domingo Tamupsis works as a harvester on a Guatemalan sugar plantation for a firm that exports bioethanol to fill the fuel tanks of cars in the US. He works 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week, in a country that is a leading producer of food for global markets.

His settlement in the fertile Pacific coastal area is surrounded by industrial farms, but he earns so little his family cannot afford to eat every day. Some days he survives his shift of hard physical labour on nothing but the mangoes that drop from trees by the roadside.

His wife, Marina, is 23 but so slight she might be mistaken for a girl. She has two daughters, Yeimi, aged six, and Jessica, two. Jessica is the size of the average European one-year-old, her distended stomach a sign of chronic malnutrition. When she smiles, hollow creases form in her cheeks, betraying her semi-permanent state of hunger.

Last year Marina gave birth in the eighth month of pregnancy to a stillborn child. She had been ill and hungry throughout, then felt severe pains one day at breakfast time…rest of article.

Latin America’s Poorest Hit By Food Price Rises

May 2 (Reuters) – Sharp increases in food prices will hit poorer Latin American countries like Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Honduras the hardest, raising their inflation rates by more than 5 percentage points this year, according to a new report released on Monday.

The report by the Inter-American Development Bank, which focuses on Latin American and the Caribbean issues, said countries hardest hit were those where food makes up a large part of their overall inflation basket and they have limited or no exchange rate flexibility to fall back on…rest of article.

Article: Malnutrition Plagues Guatemala’s Children

Kayla is months away from her fifth birthday and weighs just 18 pounds, about half what a girl her age should by World Health Organization standards.

She suffers from chronic malnutrition and can barely move. Even breathing appears difficult. During a recent visit to Hospitalito Atitlan in rural Guatemala, she was cradled in her mother’s arms and whisked from examination room to examination room.

Kayla’s brain development is not progressing, her physical development is stunted,and she can’t do simple tasks for herself, said her physical therapist Andrea Maria Sojuel.

Sojuel works for a small non-profit called ADISA, serving disabled patients in the indigenous community of Santiago Atitlan. She sees quite a few children with the same condition. Another patient of hers, a 20-month-old, weighs just eight pounds…rest of article.

Article: High Staple Food Prices Drive Up Hunger

GUATEMALA CITY, Jan 25, 2011 (IPS) – The rise in prices of corn, beans and other staple foods, driven up by damages to crops caused by extreme weather events, is making it even harder for the poor to afford a basic diet in Guatemala, which has the highest rate of child malnutrition in Latin America.

And although the government of social democratic President Álvaro Colom recently decreed a new rise in the minimum wage despite resistance from businesses, which threatened to lay off thousands of workers, the minimum wage still falls short of covering the cost of the basic basket of goods and services.

“The price of corn is higher than it has been in four years, at 125 quetzals (15.60 dollars) per quintal (100 lbs),” compared to 98 quetzals (12.20 dollars) in 2009, Gustavo García, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told IPS…rest of article.

Article: More Than 2,000 Guatemalan Kids Died of Hunger Last Year

Guatemala City –  More than 2,000 children under 5 died in Guatemala during the first 10 months of 2010 as a consequence of illnesses caused by malnutrition, according to a report presented Friday by the national ombud’s office.

The report is based on statistics of the Epidemiology Center of the Public Health Ministry covering the period from Jan. 1-Oct. 31, 2010.

“It’s worrying that mortality from hunger is double that of deaths from violence. Thousands of children are estimated to be at risk and there is no sufficient effort being made to save them from this grave situation,” ombud Sergio Morales told the media…rest of article.

Article: Bad Omens for 2011

By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Oct 16, 2010 (IPS) – Guatemala needs to take steps to prepare for even worse problems of hunger in 2011, caused by climate change and farmers’ heavy dependence on a few basic crops like corn and beans, experts warned on the occasion of World Food Day, celebrated Saturday.

“The phenomenon of La Niña is expected to last through 2011, bringing extremely heavy rains,” Eddy Sánchez, director of the National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, told IPS. “Extreme climate conditions will continue to be seen over the next few years.”

La Niña is characterised by cooler than normal sea surface temperatures and unusually strong trade winds in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean, which often bring torrential rains.

El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of a Pacific Ocean cycle that affects temperatures in the ocean and the atmosphere above it. They repeat every three or four years on average, and are the extremes in what is known as the Southern Oscillation…read more.

Article: Malnutrition Starves Children, Economies of a Lifetime of Potential

The following excerpt is from a September 22, 2010 article published by WorldVision.  To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Each dollar spent on micronutrient programs targeting children aged less than two years means gains of more than US$17 in terms of fewer deaths, better health and increased future earnings.

Although the benefits of nutritional programming take awhile to manifest, results can be startling. A recent study conducted in Guatemala by World Vision revealed that boys who received highly nutritious food supplements from birth to up to two years of age earn an estimated US$0.67 per hour more than more disadvantaged peers—an average wage increase of 46 per cent. According to the World Bank, eliminating childhood anemia in the worst-affected countries can result in a five to seven per cent increase in adult productivity, which in turn can nudge GDP up by two per cent…

Click here to read the rest of the article, or here to read more about the food crisis.

Article: Climate Extremes Fuel Hunger in Guatemala

The following article is from a July 28, 2010 article published by IPS.  To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

GUATEMALA CITY, Jul 28, 2010 (IPS) – “Three-quarters of the fields are still under water. Maize, plantains, okra and pasture are all lost,” José Asencio told IPS at the village of Santa Ana Mixtán in southern Guatemala, the area worst affected by tropical storm Agatha.

The villagers have been working for food in order to survive. “We’ve been shoring up the banks of the Coyolate and Mascalate rivers, and the mayor has been giving us food rations, although we haven’t received any for the past two weeks because supplies have run out,” he said.

Asencio said that food shortages and unemployment, caused by the extreme weather and the floods, have worsened the plight of the 373 families in the village…

Click here to read the rest of the article, or here to read more about the food crisis.