What We Do in Guatemala

In the year 2000, Freedom from Hunger and FUNDAP (Fundación Para el Desarrollo Integral de Programas Socioeconómicos) partnered to bring Credit with Education to poor families in the Totonicapan region of Guatemala. FUNDAP is a Guatemalan nonprofit private development organization that runs a village banking program called Mujer y Trabajo ('Women and Work'). Freedom from Hunger provides health and business education materials to the Mujer y Trabajo microcredit program. As of March 31, 2005, over 10,500 Guatemalan women and their families were benefiting from Credit with Education.

About Guatemala

  • Population (millions): 14.9 (2015 est.)
  • Life Expectancy: 72 (2015 est.)
  • Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000 births): 22.73 (2015 est.)
  • Percentage of rural population with access to an improved water source: 86.8% (2015 est.)
  • Fertility Rate (births per woman): 2.9 (2015 est.)
  • Literacy Rate: 81.5% (2015 est.)
  • Primary School Enrollment: 93% (2011)
  • Per capita GDP:  $7,500 (2015 est.)
  • Percentage of population living on less than $2 per day: 29.8% (2011)
  • Ethnic Groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish - in local Spanish called Ladino) and European 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other Mayan 8.6%, indigenous non-Mayan 0.2% and other 0.1% (2001 Census)
  • Languages: Spanish (official) 60%, Amerindian languages 40% note: there are 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca
  • Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs

Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize. After their independence in 1821 as a Spanish colony, Guatemala experienced a variety of military and civilian governments, as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had left more than 100,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, some 1 million refugees.

Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for nearly 15% of GDP and half of the labor force. The distribution of income remains highly unequal, with the richest 10% of the population accounting for more than 40% of Guatemala's overall consumption.

Poverty in Guatemala is widespread and deeply entrenched, particularly among poor, rural people who account for 71 percent of the country’s poor population. The country's high rates of illiteracy, infant mortality and infant malnourishment are even higher among indigenous peoples, most of whom live in rural areas. The causes of poverty are primarily related to the lack of access to social and productive assets and resources such as land and water. Income distribution and land ownership are extremely uneven.