Local health promoters educate their communities on the
importance of safe water, sanitation and hygiene
Our Work in Guatemala
GPA has been working in Guatemala since 2003. Our projects have focused on bringing valuable basic health care to indigenous populations living in some of the country’s most neglected communities, as well as funding projects designed to bring clean water to rural populations.
On Mexico’s southern border, Guatemala is a country of almost 15 million people with the largest Indigenous population in Central America. More than half come from Mayan groups such as the Q’eqchi’, Quiche, and Mam. Although Spanish is the predominant language, the government has officially recognized 23 indigenous languages.
A devastating 36-year civil war ended in 1996, but the political, economic, and cultural effects of the conflict are still felt today. More than 100,000 people, mostly Indigenous, were killed, and more than 1 million were displaced. Thousands of refugees left mountainous regions for southern Mexico or the remote Guatemalan jungle, where the increased population has accelerated deforestation and strained resources. In cities, violence has become a serious threat to women and girls, approximately 6000 of who have been killed since 2002.
Today Guatemala has been recuperating from the violent past. However, living conditions are precarious. The burdens of poverty in Guatemala fall most heavily on its rural, Indigenous population, where the infant mortality rate is 30% higher than among non-indigenous children, and the maternal mortality rate, already the one of the highest in Latin America, increases tenfold. Lack of potable water, lack of access to health care and malnutrition overwhelmingly contribute to these high rates.
Unlike other Latin American countries, Guatemala has not made significant progress toward the UN Millennium Development goal for 2015 to reduce hunger and extreme poverty by half.
Teaching local community health promoters safe handwashing techniques in San Martín Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango
100 chlorination systems have been installed in communities in the Department of Chimaltenango, bringing clean water to approximately 50,000 community members.
45 Emergency Health Worker Committees, made up of local midwives, health promoters and community leaders, have been trained since 2012 to bring basic health care to 40 rural communities, impacting an estimated 5,500 families in the Municipality of San Martín Jilotepeque.
14 rural communities have created community emergency funds, benefitting upwards of 4,000 people, and helping to save the lives of at least seven women experiencing medical emergencies.
A water catchment system was installed in a rural health clinic, which previously had been using contaminated river and well water, helping to protect the health of approximately 4000 people.