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Guatemala-Climate- Woman farmer

Maria is a Kekchí, Mayan indigenous farmer in rural Guatemala

CAFOD has worked in Guatemala for over 50 years. Together with local partners and communities, we work to address violence, crime, and discrimination, and help indigenous communities combat climate change.  

Why CAFOD works in Guatemala

During the Guatemalan civil war, more than 200,000 people - mostly civilians - were killed or disappeared.

Most Guatemalans live in poverty, particularly those living in rural and indigenous areas. Around half of Guatemala’s population are indigenous, mainly from the Mayan culture. Indigenous communities in Guatemala often face high levels of prejudice leading to a repression of their culture and fewer economic opportunities. Many indigenous people earn a living through small-scale farming which is becoming increasingly difficult as a result of climate change. Rainfall patterns are becoming more unpredictable while frosts, hailstorms and droughts are making it harder to grow crops.

Life expectancy in Guatemala is low while infant mortality and malnutrition rates are high. Almost half of all children under the age of five in Guatemala are chronically malnourished. These children are particularly susceptible to the impact of a widespread outbreak of coronavirus.

Women often face discrimination, violence and have limited opportunities to make their own decisions. Indigenous women are most likely to be poor and illiterate. Guatemala suffers from violence cause by organised crime, drug trafficking and street gangs.

CAFOD in Guatemala

CAFOD has worked with local partners and communities in Guatemala since 1968. Together we are:

  • Promoting justice for survivors of the civil war who have experienced human rights abuses, particularly focusing on indigenous communities, women and girls.

  • Strengthening justice and health systems by promoting quality care for female victims of violence and human trafficking and for people living with HIV.

  • Providing leadership training for young and indigenous communities on human rights.

  • Promoting sustainable farming practices to improve agricultural production, economic opportunities and leadership with a focus on women. 

  • Improving health through provision of water and sanitation systems and health care. This is particularly crucial in the response to coronavirus. 

  • Strengthening indigenous culture and values through community-based radio education in Mayan languages.