The President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, has announced a “state of public calamity” to tackle food shortages throughout the Central American nation. The failure of bean and corn crops from drought, which cut the yields of these staple crops in half, has brought the crisis to a head. In addition, prime agricultural land in Guatemala is often used to grow export crops like coffee and sugar rather than staples.
“There is food, what is lacking is the money for the affected people to buy food,” President Colom said. “We are not going to wait until we’ve reached starvation levels to act.”
Colom’s announcement allows Guatemala to buy emergency rations of food. Colom has announced that his government will bring food to more than 400,000 families in need.
The global downturn has also played a role. Families say they are receiving less money from relatives in the United States, while a UN official has said that Guatemala’s unequal wealth distribution has led to this crisis.
The UN’s World Food Promgram (WFP) is set to distribute 20 tons of biscuits to the hardest-hit areas.
Estimates before the food crisis found that nearly 50 percent of children under five in Guatemala suffer from malnutrition.
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